Genc Kanka Eddie and Ahmet (the bloke who used to have a really cool moustache) from TurkishSoccer both asked for my opinions on the promotion of Genclerbirligi Oftaş into the Ripoff Mobile Phone Company Super Lig.
No, it didn't slip under my radar what was happening in the second division (or as it is officially called - The Ripoff Landline Phone Company Lig A). Genclerbirligi Oftaş won the league and Istanbul Greater Municipality Spor came in second thus meaning that both get promoted. The third team to be promoted will be decided next week after a knockout tournament.
First up I'm bloody pissed off Istanbul got up. Not because they are from Istanbul but what the hell is the Istanbul municipality doing funding a football team. How many pitches has the municipality built for the kids of Istanbul in the past few years? I don't know the answer but I bet it is none. This message applies just as equally to this blog's favourite "honourary" chairman Melih Gokcek.
Stop wasting money on football and start spending money on the people of your city. And while your at it Gokcek. Give us our pub back!
The issue of Genclerbirligi Oftaş is a bit more nuanced, if only because it tears me in two. There was a sort of background article in the Turkish Daily News the other day which looked at the situation.
I haven't been following these guys too closely but it seems they have done very well, moving up two leagues in two seasons. Thing is they are owned 100 percent by Genclerbirligi. Genclerbirligi Oftaş has been regarded as Genclerbirligi reserves for two years now - not that that is totally true as players have to be registered and we can't just move in an Oftaş player if one of the senior guys is injured for example. But the Genclerbirligi club has definitely taken the best off Oftaş. For example, Mehmet Cakir, even if he has been a passenger for the last few matches, was an Oftaş player.
So what happens now. Next year we are going to have two Genclerbirligis (or should that be "two Genclerbirligiler") in the top flight.
Should my loyalties be divided? I don't think they will be. I'll be supporting the senior team and I think that the vast majority of Gencler fans will be doing the same as me. So therefore just how many supporters will Oftaş have? My guess, bugger all.
Then there is the potential massive conflict of interest when it comes to next year's matches between Genclerbirligi and Genclerbirligi Oftaş. It doesn't matter how clean the matches are there will no doubt accusations that one or the other threw the match. Can you imagine what might happen if this is a match that might decide who gets a UEFA Cup spot, or who gets relegated?
My other concern is not about Oftaş per se but about the league in general. Next year we will have four Ankara teams, four Istanbul teams and depending on results in the next week or so potentially none from Antalya, Adana or Izmir, three of the biggest cities in the country. This cannot be healthy.
The great success of Oftaş must certainly be applauded and I wish them well next year. Genclerbirligi Chairman Ilhan Cavcav has clearly done a good job. Does make me wonder though how it is that he can get two teams into the top league but still be an utter failure in getting any further.