Can Basaksehir win the League?
Your average football fan would know that Turkey is home to some of the most madly committed football fans on the planet and would probably be able to name the three Istanbul giants: Besiktas, Fenerbahce and Galatasaray.
However you’d be surprised to see a team by the name of Basaksehir sitting at the top of the league table today.
Who the hell is Basaksehir?
Basaksehir is an upstart club with a hollow fan base hailing from a newly developed conservative Istanbul suburb to which it owes its name to.
Friends in high places
The club is run by a group of directors with close links to the government who bought another fanless club Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediye run by Istanbul municipality. Four years later, the club sits in first place in Turkish Super Lig. The club chairman, Goksel Gumusdag is an AKP local official who is related by marriage to President Erdogan.
The ultimate fantasy team
With a roster boasting heavy-weights like Arda Turan, ex EPL stars Emmanuel Adebayor, Robinho, Demba Ba, Gael Clichy, Serdar Tasci, Emre Belözoğlu and Gokhan Inler, the club sheet almost looks like some fantasy league Ultimate Team.
A coach without accolades
Abdullah Avci is the head-coach of the team. His career accolades include promoting Basaksehir (then with a different name) to Super Lig in 2006 and managing Galatasaray’s A2 team for a year in 2004.
Avci had a short and unsuccessful term with the Turkey national team between 2011 and 2013 during which Turkey National team had more defeats than wins and losses.
A club without fans?
Up until three years ago, the club played at the massive Ataturk Olympic Stadium which has 76,000 seat capacity, but only around 100 seats were occupied during their games. Starting from 2015 they play the games at Başakşehir Fatih Terim Stadium. The stadium has a capacity of 17,800 fans.
Despite big name signings and success, fan numbers inside their Basaksehir stadium have only averaged around 6,000.
The fans are known for their pro-government views, evident by political banners they display during soccer games.
Can Basaksehir win the Super Lig?
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Basaksehir won the league this year. The club has no debts an, the team has the best squad depth in the league. Having no fans they will be playing without any pressure which may make reaching the trophy easier.