Four Turkish clubs that dominated the Süper Lig for decades are nowadays struggling with mounting debt. The "Big Four" of Turkish football - Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş and Trabzonspor - have a total debt of TL 10.4 billion, Anadolu Agency (AA) reported.
Fenerbahçe has the unenviable title of the club with the highest debt, at TL 4.2 million as information sent by clubs recently to the Borsa Istanbul stock exchange indicates.
The total debt for the four clubs was only slightly over TL 2.6 billion in 2012 and TL 9.8 billion last year. Factors vary for the increase in debts, but they are mostly tied to an excessive spending spree, particularly for foreign players, as the competition tightens in the Süper Lig with the arrival of underdogs from lower leagues. Galatasaray has an outstanding debt of TL 2.8 billion according to the latest data from Dec. 31, 2018. Mustafa Cengiz, chairman of the club, which is currently in the second spot in Süper Lig, said earlier that the club was "in a struggle to exist."
"We are in a fight for survival. We are exhausted. People may be all smiles but they are crying inside," Cengiz said in an emotionally charged speech at a convention of the club's members last week.
"All the clubs are in a state of exhaustion. Income is four times lower than expenditures," Cengiz said.
Beşiktaş has a debt of TL 2.3 billion, and club Chairman Fikret Orman said they had to transfer new players despite the debt to compete against rivals recruiting new players every season. Fenerbahçe Chairman Ali Koç said that the club was going through "a period where financial support is needed most." Trabzon has the least debt among the four, at TL 1.4 billion, and club Chairman Ahmet Ağaoğlu complained about outstanding cases regarding past exemptions of the team from international competitions, a major source of revenue, as well as fines over past unpaid debt that increased the debt the club owed to other clubs from Milan to Midtjylland.