Is Turkish football hampered by a dominant ‘Big Two’?

Forty million Euros. That is what Turkish Super Lig club Fenerbahce have spent in summer transfers this season a scenario which was all but unimaginable not so long ago.

Of course the bulk of that cash was utilized in acquiring the services of the former Manchester United duo of Robin van Persie and Nani who are aiming to resurrect their careers at the Istanbul based club.


Arch rivals Galatasaray too are buzzing thanks to their recent signing of Lukas Podolski from Arsenal which shows that the club is leaving no stone unturned in their quest for European glory.

Sheer dominance by the ‘Big Two’

Proof of the sheer dominance of these two clubs in the Super Lig is the fact that since the 2011-12 to the 2014-15 seasons, it has virtually been a two-horse race for the league title with Galatasaray (‘11-‘12, ‘12-‘13 and ‘14-‘15) and Fenerbahce (‘13-‘14) winning it thrice and once respectively.

And quite amazingly no other club has finished second in the league (the last was Trabzonspor) since 2010-11 which only adds to the sheer enormity of the fact.

Bursaspor (2009-10) was the last club outside of the ‘Big Two’ to have won the Super Lig, a reminder that the league may well be the new Scottish Premiership thanks to the sheer lack of competition.

Besiktas? Yes, though the third of the Istanbul triumvirate did win the league way back in 2008-09 but have not made a serious challenge to the ‘Big Two’ since then.

So will the ‘Big Two’s’ dominance have a ‘negative’ effect on Turkish football or will the other clubs do have to go the ‘Sheik way’ and hope for a cash filled revival from the middle-east?

The 15-year European drought

Quite harshly Galatasaray are the only Turkish team to have tasted European glory (when they won the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup way back in 1999-2000) which only highlights as to how far the ‘Big Two’ are when it comes to comparisons with other European giants.

Of course, we are not even mentioning the national team (which currently has a world ranking of 45) who failed to inspire soccer mad citizens in the country despite their run-up to the 2008 European Championship semi-finals.

So is local talent in the Super Lig being smothered thanks to the sudden spurt of cash for the ‘Big Two’ and is it indirectly affecting the fortunes of the national team?


Domino effect?

Very unlikely since the ‘Big Two’ have been ruling the roost in Turkey since 1959 and have won a total of 39 Super Lig titles between them, thus ruling out an indirect ‘domino’ effect on the fortunes of the national team.

Also Turkey’s 2002 World Cup semi-final run was almost more than a decade back and since then the country has failed to make a splash either in international or European football which proves that the problem lies somewhere else.

The glaring fact is that of Turkish football not having achieved anything of note for at least a good 16 years which only compounds the misery for fans who are yet to see a trophy of brag worthy proportions.

So will the Super Lig see a new challenger who can break through the shackles of the ‘Big Two’ or more importantly will the national team even get within a whiff of winning a major international trophy starting with the Euro 2016 qualifiers?

All that will be answered as the new Super Lig season kicks off on the 15th of August and also the national team facing off against Latvia in September and try to shrug off a dismal start to their qualifying campaign.

Van Persie or Nani anyone?

The Author

Vineet Varma

Football and Cricket fanatic. Writer, philosopher. Lives and breathes Liverpool. And yes..hail Stevie G!

2 thoughts on “Is Turkish football hampered by a dominant ‘Big Two’?

  1. Have you done any research for this article? Firstly whilst Galatasary and Fenerbahce may have appeared to have been dominating recently, on the pitch they have not. The Super Lig has become stronger and last season Besiktas, Fenerbahce and Galatasaray all swapped positions at the top of the league. Besiktas’ title challenge fell away before Fenerbahce’s but it was still the most exciting title race out of any European league. This season Besiktas lead and Fenerbahce and Galatasaray are not far behind. The national team has also qualified for Euro 2016.

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