Bigger economic blow to sport might be on its way

Bigger economic blow to sport might be on its way

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
The negative effects of the Turkish match-fixing scandal on the football industry will emerge clearly in coming years, a prominent Turkish sport ecomonist has claimed.

The landmark match-fixing case has rocked the Turkish football scene since it became public on July 3, 2011, with 93 football club officials, coaches and players, from some of country’s top clubs, as suspects.

“The Turkish football industry is likely to face harsh consequences in the future as a result of this scandal,” sports economist Tuğrul Akşar told the Daily News via e-mail. “[This is] because [football] leagues whose reputation has been damaged see substantial rating losses, resulting in lower revenues. I also expect to see falling levels of sponsorship, advertisement and media revenues in particular.”

The 2011-12 Spor Toto Super League season has not been affected as the live broadcasting contracts, which comprise most of the market, were signed before the league started, said Tuğrul Akşar.

The ongoing case focuses on several matches played in Turkey’s top two football leagues, with accusations of match rigging and the creation of organized crime groups through alleged ties between mafia leaders and football officials.

The case may also have adverse effects on Turkish betting agencies if it carries on for a significant period of time. “Although İddaa does not provide one-game or live bets, which do not work for match-fixers, we may detect the negative impact of the case on İddaa in coming years,” Tuğrul Akşar said.

As for the global transfer market, Turkish clubs are attractive as they give more money to the football players and the tax rate of 15 percent is lower than in Europe, he said, adding that Turkey’s proximity and easy transportation links to the old continent, culture and life-style are also factors for foreign players coming to Turkey. “In fact, these factors neutralize the case’s negative impact on our football [market].”

The case’s most significant consequence has been the shattering of clubs’ market capitalization, which has fallen by up to 40 percent, he said.

Growing debt pile
The largest three football clubs, Beşiktaş, Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe, face a collective debt totaling 1 billion liras, according to the Anatolia news agency. Beşiktaş is the most indebted club with nearly 363 million liras.

The poor financial transparency of Turkey’s football industry may have to change as the European football federation (UEFA) has approved the Financial Fair Play criteria, which makes it obligatory for clubs to maintain a balanced budget, starting from the 2014-15 season.

“If the [level of] debt continues like this, hard times are ahead of the Turkish football […] The clubs, which do not comply with the criteria, will be excluded from UEFA organizations and be fined,” Akşar told yesterday to the Anatolia News Agency.

A supreme financial board, like the Capital Markets Board or the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency, is “definitely essential” in order to minimize unfair competition among the clubs, and prevent them from uncontrolled borrowing, he said.

Two match-fixing suspects cleared to play in games

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News

Two suspects in a match-fixing case have been cleared to play in their Turkish top-flight clubs, according to a Professional Football Disciplinary Committee (PFDK) decision on March 9.

Sivasspor goalkeeper Korcan Çelikay and Istanbul BB attacker İskender Alın will continue to play for their teams, about three months after being released from prison pending charges.

The two players were among the 31 football players, coaches and officials jailed pending trial as part of the match-fixing case. Çelikay and Alın were released pending charges, along with six others, by a court decision, but they could not play for their teams due to an ongoing provisional ban issued by the PFDK.

Sivasspor’s Çelikay was allegedly given bonuses from Fenerbahçe to underperform during the two teams’ Super League title-deciding game on the last day of the 2010-2011 Super League. The game ended in a 4-3 win for Fenerbahçe and Çelikay conceded a controversial goal.

Istanbul BB attackers Alın and İbrahim Akın were allegedly offered a transfer to Beşiktaş before the Ziraat Turkish Cup final last year in order to underperform.

Akın is still ineligible to play as PFDK has not yet lifted his ban.