Top-flight Turkish football will return to the eastern province of Malatya for the first time in 11 years after Yeni Malatyaspor clinched a promotion place with a late draw at home to Boluspor.
Malatya has been without a team in Turkey’s top division since Malatyaspor, a former middling power that finished as high as fifth in the Super League in 2003, was relegated in 2006 before a series of successive demotions saw the club fall all the way to the regional leagues.
Yeni Malatyaspor was founded in 1986 as Malatya Belediyespor by the local municipality. The club was renamed Yeni Malatyaspor in 2010 and has also adopted the previous Malatyaspor’s iconic red-and-yellow kit.
The club’s coach, İrfan Buz, was unable to contain his emotions at the end of the match, collapsing in tears on the pitch as supporters rushed the pitch to congratulate the team.
“Our road was incredibly thorny; we had a lot of sleepless nights, and we sometimes broke out in a rash,” Buz said. “Today [we’ve been promoted]. I thank my mother, my father, my whole family and my team, who have given me so much support on this road.”
“This city deserved the Super League until the very end,” Yeni Malatyaspor player Ahmet Aras said after the final whistle.
Sivasspor, meanwhile, will make an immediate return to the Super League after being relegated at the conclusion of the 2015-16 season.
Yeni Malatyaspor will be crowned champion of the division if it can avoid defeat against Sivasspor in the final round of the season next week.
The third side to be promoted will be decided by an end-of-season playoff. Eskişehir and Giresunspor have already qualified for the playoff, while two of Göztepe, Boluspor and Altınordu will also participate.