New season kicks off to empty seats due to bans, e-ticketing
Officials prepare before the Spor Toto Super League game between Bursaspor and Galatasaray at the Bursa Atatürk Stadium, where two stands remained empty due to the ban handed down by the Turkish Football Federation.The 57th season of the Turkish Super League started over the weekend with growing concerns over the alarming drop in the number of spectators.
Many games were played in front of empty stands on the first match day of the new season, both due to bans and the newly-implemented e-ticketing system.
The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) changed its regulations last season, allowing Turkish football’s governing body to shut down parts of a stadium in the event of fan trouble rather than ordering the next game to be played behind closed doors.
In the first week, both stands behind the goals at Fenerbahçe’s Şükrü Saraçoğlu Stadium were closed for the home side’s opening match against Karabükspor. The defending champion had a winning start to the season, beating the visitors 3-2.
Fenerbahçe’s archrival Galatasaray also started the season in front few spectators, with only half of Bursaspor’s Atatürk Stadium open to spectators due to a punishment over fan trouble. Galatasaray won the match 2-0.
However, the main reason for the low number of spectators in Super League matches is believed to be the new “Passolig” e-ticketing system, which was introduced late last season but was first fully implemented over the weekend.
Many supporters' groups that make up the majority of match goers, including Beşiktaş’s Çarşı, Galatasaray’s Ultraslan and Tek Yumruk, Fenerbahçe’s Vamos Bien, Trabzonspor’s Vira, Bursaspor’s Texas and Gençlerbirliği’s Alkaralar, announced before the start of the new season that they would not be in the stands as long as the e-ticketing system is in place. The groups called on their clubs’ supporters to instead attend basketball, volleyball or handball matches, or the games in lower leagues, which do not require e-ticketing.
The Passolig system requires every fan to be registered in the system and pay a yearly fee for the card, which can also be used as a credit card, in addition to the ticket price for each game and an additional fee for every ticket they purchase. The system has drawn ire for the additional financial burden it puts on supporters, while many believe the system aims to keep the “real fans” out of the stadiums by tracking their personal data and intimidating them in the event of fan trouble.
In addition, some supporters say they do not want to be included in a system run by Alternatifbank, a subsidiary of Çalık Holding, which belongs to Ahmet Çalık, the father-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s daughter.
Elsewhere in the first week of the Super League, Akhisar beat newcomer Balıkesirspor 2-1, Eskişehirspor won with the same score against Torku Konyaspor, Beşiktaş won 1-0 at Mersin İdmanyurdu and Sivasspor lost 2-1 at home to Gaziantepspor.
Two games ended in 1-1 draws; Gençlerbirliği held on to a draw at Çaykur Rizepor and Kasımpaşa failed to beat 10-man Istanbul Başakşehir, formerly known as Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. The only goalless match of the first week was between Kayseri Erciyes and Trabzonspor, much to the fury of the Black Sea side’s new coach Vahid Halilhodzic.