'Big Four' debt in Turkish football nears $2 bln

'Big Four' debt in Turkish football nears $2 bln

ISTANBUL- Anadolu Agency
Big Four debt in Turkish football nears $2 bln

The "Big Four" in Turkish football - Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray and Trabzonspor - are in an astronomical debt spiral, reaching 13.99 billion Turkish liras or ($1.89 billion). 

Each of the four teams announced debt last year on the public disclosure platform (KAP) as it piled to $1.89 billion. The figure in 2012 was 2.06 billion liras ($1.14 billion).

The gap in the lira was larger than the one in the dollar because $1 equaled 1.8 liras in 2012.

But on Jan. 29, 2021, $1 is about 7.3 liras.

In the last eight years, debt at the four clubs was augmented by 579%.

Fenerbahçe tops the list with 5.2 billion liras ($714.2 million).

Beşiktaş's current debt is 3.9 billion liras ($535.6 million).

Galatasaray is next with 3.6 billion liras ($494.3 million).

Trabzonspor from the Black Sea region is 1.2 billion liras in debt, or $164.7 million.

This week, Turkish Football Federation (TFF) chief Nihat Özdemir said the debt was an accumulation of several years but the coronavirus pandemic and foreign currency's rise in Turkey also had negative effects.


Total debt at the clubs is more than several budgets at Turkey’s ministries in 2021.

All ministries, including trade, interior, foreign, industry and technology announced budgets in parliament near the end of 2020.

Industry and Technology's budget is 11.91 billion liras, or $1.63 billion.

Interior has 10.66 billion liras to spend in 2021. Meanwhile, the nation’s trade budget is 6.58 billion liras.

Culture and Tourism was allocated 6.01 billion liras.

The Foreign Ministry has 5.78 billion liras for 2021. Energy and Natural Resources has a budget of 3.99 billion liras.

Environment and Urbanization has 3.37 billion liras to spend in 2021.


Champions in Europe's top-tier UEFA Champions League is awarded a cash prize of nearly €120 million ($145.7 million) every season, making the Big Four's combined debt equal to 13 championships.

Turkey's largest sports hall, Sinan Erde in Istanbul with a capacity of 22,500 spectators that is mostly used for basketball games – cost $47 million to build. With the amount of massive debt incurred by the Big Four, 40 sports halls similar to Sinan Erdem could be constructed.

The venue was built for the 2010 FIBA World Championship as Turkey was the host nation for the international basketball tournament.

In Oct. 2020, an earthquake hit the western province of Izmir, causing damages of approximately 3.5 billion liras ($477.7 million).

The club's debt is about four times that amount.


Fenerbahçe and Trabzonspor did not qualify for European Cups in four of the last 10 seasons.

Galatasaray and Beşiktaş missed European challenges in two seasons.

In this period Galatasaray and Trabzonspor were each banned by UEFA for one year as they could not meet financial responsibilities.

UEFA barred Fenerbahçe from the Champions League for two seasons because of an investigation amid domestic match-fixing.

Beşiktaş did not qualify for the European Cups for two seasons after failing to meet financial criteria and match-fixing charges.

In the 2012-13 season, Fenerbahçe reached the UEFA Europa League semifinals but were eliminated by Portugal's Benfica.

In the same season, Galatasaray played in the Champions League quarterfinals, only to be knocked out of the tournament by Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid.

Beşiktaş reached the Europa League last eight in the 2016-17 season but lost to France's Olympique Lyon on penalties.

Trabzonspor were unable to go past the Round of 32 in the Europa League.