How is it that a club that has played for more than 30 years in the top flight of Turkish football suddenly find itself without a single player of note, whose players can't even swap jerseys at the end of a match because there is no money in the coffers?
How is it that a club with more than 100 years of history behind it find themselves on the brink of annihilation? Clubs in Turkey have disappeared before and will disappear again, but this is a club with thousands of supporters. Supporters who have in the last few weeks sent food to the team. A club who has had members of parliament, from both sides of the aile, pledge their support and cash to keep the club running.
No one will pretend that Ankaragucu was not being run in the best of fashions a few years ago. It was a common occurance during matches for the fans to sing their displeasure at the then chairman of club, Cemal Aydin. A number of times Aydin acknowledged this and promised to stand down. When it came to the annual general meetings however, he ran again and again.
Ankaragucu, like all clubs in Turkey, is a club that is run by a board that is elected by its members. Unlike some clubs abroad, you cannot simply buy a club in Turkey. Even those high flying clubs like Galatasaray or Besiktas which are listed on the stockmarket cannot be bought outright. The members still have a vote, and each member's vote is equal.
But just who are the members? How do you become a member? How does a committed Ankaragucu fan get involved in the club if there is almost no way of actually joining the club and therefore gaining a right to vote? At the last Extraordinary General Meeting in November last year, following a court decision to annual the AGM where the Gokceks took control, just 130 members voted - One-hundred-and-thirty -
A decent club will have membership details on its website. Just as an example I give the Balmain Rugby League club which I supported back in Australia, and which many members of my family have been members of for many, many years. Click on this link and you'll see how to become a member, what the latest accounts are, what were the results of the latest AGM. You can't find any of this on the Ankaragucu website (or on many other Turkish football clubs' websites for that matter). As I write this post, the Ankaragucu website hasn't been updated for almost two months.
When thinking about writing this post I realised just how little I know about how football clubs work in Turkey. With that in mind I want to talk about Ankaragucu and just how little we know about why the club has collapsed.
At "The round ball in Ankara" we have written before about the political problems the club has faced. The timeline is here.
The question I'd like to ask today is how is it that the club has become so bankrupt?
I've not seen any accounts for the club, and would love to see some if anyone wants to send them to me.
During the short time that the Gokceks were in control the club spent up big. Plenty of times the club seemed to have difficulty in paying its debts but then again, every now and then they paid off big sums owed to players, or hotels or bus leasing companies. Nary a month passed without an "Ankaragucu unable to pay debts" story not being printed.
There is the question though of where did the money come from to pay off some of these debts? It can't have come from the Ankara Municipality, that would be illegal. Could it possibly, maybe, certainly not being suggested by us, have come from companies that have benefitted from contracts awarded to them from the municipality?
So where did it come from? Some sort of fairy godmother?
And then when the courts took the club off the Gokceks, the club suddenly found that it was in debt to the tune of nearly 100 million lira and all of these fairy godmothers who had saved the club in the past had disappeared. How is it that a club could run with massive debts, but still somehow manage to pay some of them, and then suddenly collapse overnight, as soon as the Gokceks lost control?
Who pulled out? Who stopped giving cash to the club? Why were they giving cash to the club in the first place?
We don't know.
Where is the TFF inquiry into the matter? A bit of transparency would go a long way to solve the problems of Turkish football. Boy, and I haven't even mentioned match-fixing.
If you are reading this and find that it is a load of uninformed rubbish then I encourage you to write in and inform us, because as hard as I try, I have found it extremely difficult to figure out anything and that in itself is a disgrace.