We are at that stage of pre-season preparations at which it is traditional to become anxious about the future of the 19 May Stadium.
Gençler Chairman İlhan Cavcav has duly obliged, and respected this long tradition by speaking to Anadolu Agency to express worry over the uncertainty surrounding The Old Girl and have a dig at Mr. Melih Gökçek at the same time.
Mr. Cavcav's remarks provide us with a "news hook" on which we can hang a round-up of some of the 19 Mayis news over the last few weeks.
On July 14, Sports Minister Akif Çağatay Kiliç announced that, after consultation with the President and Prime Minister, the government has decided to construct a new stadium, "one that befits a capital city," on the site of the old one.
Subsequent events in the capital may have prevented his announcement from receiving the coverage it deserved. Nevertheless, official rejection of the out-of-town option is a significant step in the 86-year history of the 19 May.
Mr. Kiliç noted that the decision reflects the general tone of the wishes of the people of Ankara. In this I am sure he is correct. It certainly reflects the wishes of these bloggers. And those of İlhan Cavcav.
...Who is never happy. And came out moaning yesterday, with some fine ironic usage of honourifics as insults. He also nicely conflates Gençler's reputation with that of the entire city. Who could argue with that?
Highlights of the Cavcav remarks as reported here are:
- No one knows when the demolition of 19 Mayis will start. The uncertainly must end.
- It has been suggested that Gençler could play at the OSTIM Stadium during any construction. "The people of Ankara know the state of the OSTIM stadium," says Cavcav. Our Ankaragücü brothers on this blog know it well too. Comments are most welcome.
- If it comes to a demolition, Gençler should play at Osmanlı Stadium, not OSTIM, says Cavcav. Osmanlı, aka Yenikent, aka The Stadium from Hell is also well known to the Kankas.
- Quoth Cavcav:
"It used to be Yenikent, now it's Osmanlı. This stadium is not just the property of Osmanlıspor, it is Ankara's stadium. Our honourable Metropolitan City Mayor Melih Gökçek is the Mayor of Ankara, not of Besiktaş. Last year that fine Istanbul team Besiktaş played at Yenikent while their stadium was being built. It is only fair that we too should play at Osmanlı. It can't be one rule for Besiktaş and another for us. It would not be appropriate for the capital Ankara to play at OSTIM while Osmanlı Stadium is there. We've been using 19 May for long years alongside Ankaragücü. Until the new ground is built, we could use Yenikent alongside Osmanlıspor. I don't think the powers that be will victimise us when they make their decision."
So. Mr. Cavcav is hoping to be able to play at a ground we dislike that is half-way to nowhere, rather than a ground that is small, grotty and hard to find. Still, at least OSTIM is inside the ring-road. I am not entirely certain I share Mr. Cavcav's preferences. Comments most welcome.
But rest assured, dear reader. We have all been here before. This time round it may be that The Old Girl is a few steps closer to her end than she was this time last year, or the year before that. But my gut tells me there's a little more football to be squeezed out of her yet. Ankara is in upheaval. Financing costs are rising. The legal process of demolishing and rebuilding the entire 19 May Stadium and the surrounding fencing, tennis and sports-writers' boozing facilities is sure to be complex. The Honourable Mayor is under a larger and darker cloud than usual.
We might even get another full season in.