Crisis-hit Beşiktaş chair: The club’s now doing OK

Crisis-hit Beşiktaş chair: The club’s now doing OK

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Crisis-hit Beşiktaş chair: The club’s now doing OK

Having fallen from the top of the league with three defeats, Beşiktaş hopes to return to its winning way against another title hopeful, Trabzonspor. Hürriyet photo, Semih BAHADIR

Beşiktaş chairman Fikret Orman said the financially-struggling Istanbul club had been showing positive signs of improvement over the last few months.

Orman, who was elected as the Beşiktaş chairman in March, said he and his board had been fighting the club’s immense debt through severe methods such as cutting expenses and boosting incomes. One of the most evident reflections of these measures was the offloading of a number of valuable players in the club’s football branch.

“The club cleared its debts to footballers from 60 million Turkish Liras to 33 million,” Orman told reporters at a meeting at the club’s headquarters in Istanbul. “The total budget of the football team for this season is 25 million Euros.”

Orman also said that all the other sports branches, including basketball and volleyball, were allocated a total budget of 18 million liras, compared to last season’s 31 million.

Beşiktaş declared a total debt of 581 million liras in June 2012. A large part of that debt was accumulated during the eight-year reign of former chairman Yıldırım Demirören, who reportedly invested 104 million liras in the club from his own sources and left the club indebted to himself.

Orman announced that records from the eight-year period were audited by an independent firm and that lawyers were currently examining the results. “The auditing process is now over. A group is now looking at the results to see if there is anything wrong [in the expenditures] in terms of penal law, in the associations law, the commercial law and the tax code,” Orman said.

During Demirören’s spell, Beşiktaş signed “85 players in eight years,” including blockbuster signings such as former Real Madrid star Guti, Portuguese aces Ricardo Quaresma, Simao Sabrosa and Hugo Almeida, and Brazilian players Kleberson and Ailton. The investments did not provide remarkable returns for Beşiktaş, who won the national title just once during the eight-year spell.

“85 transfers were made in eight years. All happened in front of the public eyes and no one said anything then,” Orman said, adding that he would do his best to hold Demirören accountable.

Orman was elected Beşiktaş chairman at extraordinary elections held after Demirören left the club to fill a vacancy as president of the Turkish Football Federation. The club’s obvious debt made the job a daunting task, but Orman said he did not hesitate in taking over.

“This is not a rational thing. It’s all about love,” Orman said. “Of course I knew about the situation, but I had not dived deep into the financial situation of the club then.”

Fans support

The chairman said that fans had shown an interest in helping the club. One of the first and most widely embraced projects of the new administration was the advertising campaign “Feda,” meaning “sacrifice,” a reference to the famous last words of the club’s football branch founder, Şeref Bey. A total of 165,000 merchandizing goods have been sold since the project was unveiled early summer, injecting the club with a net worth of 2.5 million liras. Orman is aware that the amount is too little, given that “it equals the salary of a footballer,” but said that it reflects the support of the fans0.

“We have sold 10,650 season tickets this season, compared to last season’s 5,931 season tickets,” he said, adding that revenues had not doubled with this increase due to decreased ticket prices.

“That’s the Beşiktaş fan profile,” Orman said. “Back in the days, Beşiktaş would play in front of 40,000 people, no matter whether it was playing for the title or not. I know they will support the club even more if they see the positives.”