Football and budget limit: Why now?

I’ve been receiving a lot of invitations from the football clubs lately, all of which seem to be in complete agreement about the fact that even the Financial Fair Play rules won’t save Turkish football. If you ask me, it’s too late now and that’s why they need to take extreme measures. This is the reason why Turkish Football Federation has recently adopted a new approach.

The new “budget limit” directives by Turkish Football Federation which are envisaged to become effective as of next year have figuratively created a nuclear effect. As you may know, I had served as secretary general of TFF in the past. Whenever people ask me about these recently taken measures, I tell them that TFF wouldn’t need to take such drastic measures right now if clubs adhered with the financial fair play rules.

As a matter of fact, I think there’s not even a single club in Turkey that really follows the financial fair play rules, except for those that participate in UEFA Champions League. In the past, some Turkish football clubs have been subject to points deductions as punishment for failure to adhere with rules. But all of these punishments have been postponed, which was in fact an act of rewarding these clubs rather than punishing them. Their rivals have been treated unfairly. But, as of today, no one will be given the permission to ask for any favours. A site clearing is what we needed to make sure the financial fair play rules are applied properly.

All football clubs in Turkey seem to aim for huge success but they don’t actually have neither the infrastructure nor the principles required to achieve their goals. These football clubs must, first of all, admit that they are not capable of creating enough value in return for all the loans they’ve been granted and start acting like a responsible organisation. The financial size and capability of football clubs in Turkey are sadly smaller than the pile of debt they’ve accumulated so far. In such cases, the survival of clubs is usually at the mercy of certain people and their level of tolerance, which is, by the way, the main reason that led the clubs to go off the rails.

Therefore, I think Turkish football clubs should not get the right to say, “Postpone our debt! Have the banks help us! Provide us with funds!” The first thing they must do is to cut spending. If they don’t do it and keep wasting money on useless transfers, Turkish Football will never prosper, of that I’m sure.

“Don’t take a step back…”

Say a foreign player is to receive 3 liras for transferring to a European club, but when he’s asked to play for a Turkish club, he suddenly doubles his fee. And the reason why there’s a huge difference between transfer fees is because Turkey has numerous cases at FIFA waiting to be settled. There’s this one complaint that has been remaining constant since my term as secretary general: “Turks do not pay managers and players wages”. Because of such complaints, we buy in a player, who normally worth 3 TRY, for 5 TRY, and incur a loss of 1 TRY when we sell him for 4 TRY. In short, a large part of foreign player transfers in Turkey causes damages to Turkish football clubs because of reputational risk issues.

The teams in the Portuguese league, on the other hand, have considerably less debt than those in Turkish league but they are capable of creating much more value because Portuguese teams are successful at turning debt into value. Turkish clubs unfortunately do the opposite. That’s why they keep losing money all the time. And to stop this nonsense, TFF has made a very reasonable decision, placing limitations on clubs’ budgets.

However, TFF will have to stand by its principles so as these decisions can create the intended effect. During my term, TFF was sadly incapable of sticking to its principles. TFF’s recent decisions put limits on clubs’ financial activities in terms of both borrowing and spending, which is a hugely important measure indeed.

If, however, TFF decides to postpone the effective date of this decision to a later date or decides to make favours to clubs again, these restructured football clubs will become even heavier burdens on Turkish people’s shoulders.