The new chairman will be selected in an extraordinary club congress on Sunday, and three names have risen above the general turmoil as candidates. These are Nazmi Koca, Fikret Orman and Bülent Deriş. Among others, Yalçın Karadeniz was mentioned as a potential, though he recently announced that he was officially withdrawing from the race. This was only after Honorary Chairman Süleyman Seba stated that he was not actually backing Karadeniz, as the candidate had previously claimed.
Though respected in some circles, Demirören is infamous for bringing substantial debt upon the Turkish football giant in a series of expensive mistakes, including the notorious Fulya Project, a complex that was to include residences, a supermarket, hospital and parking garage in İstanbul’s Fulya neighborhood. The massive undertaking, which Beşiktaş was supposed to own all of except for the residences, was projected to earn the club $1 million a month; however, it has so far claimed approximately $70 million in expenses from Beşiktaş’s coffers.
Who is the new face of Beşiktaş?
The club has been leaderless since Demirören was elected TFF head on Feb. 27 and, just about one month later, it is choosing someone to take the job. With Karadeniz out of the picture, it is a three-way race between Koca, Deriş and Orman. Finances and the state of the club’s stadium have been the hottest topics.
Koca has pointed out the urgency of rebuilding Beşiktaş’s Fiyapı İnönü Stadium, as there are concerns about its ability to withstand an earthquake. “An İstanbul earthquake is approaching and İnönü Stadium is in danger. In order to draw attention to this we had a press conference in front of the stadium and letters have been sent to the club about an earthquake,” he said.
He also vowed to never cause Beşiktaş supporters any “pain, blood or tears.” However, tearing down the beloved stadium could do exactly that, which is perhaps why he mixed one-upping rivals into the picture. “We are going to build a stadium at least 10 percent bigger than the stadiums of Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe,” he said.
He has also made interesting statements about changing the structure of the club’s leadership. “Let’s make some changes in the bylaws and have a co-chairman system. Fikret Orman should join us,” he proposed. “We’ll have the chairmanship for one year and he will have it for one,” he added.
This brings us to Orman. He has focused on alleviating the club’s current financial woes, discussing Demirören’s mistakes by and his own ideas for improving Beşiktaş’s monetary outlook. “People are asking a lot of questions about projects. There is no project in Beşiktaş that is not public. The only project Beşiktaş should have is bringing in income,” he said, explaining that nearly all of the club’s income is allocated even before it arrives.
He claims that he has been speaking out on the topic all along. “I have expressed this in every congress and interview; getting an advance is gaining debt. Advances made without action are debts,” he stated. “Everything that comes to mind is assigned, some for two to three years, some for 10,” he added.
Explaining the motives behind his candidacy, Orman said: “I looked at the other candidates, and they did not satisfy me as Beşiktaş board members. If they had, I would not have thought of becoming a candidate.” He also claims that he is not being secretly backed, but is running of his own accord, probably to differentiate himself from Karadeniz. “I did not ask anyone, but decided to run after-hours. If I had asked, they would have said, ‘Don’t run.’ We have a truly hard time ahead of us,” he said, noting that at such a time, the chairmanship will not be all glory and honor.
Finally there is Bülent Deriş, who used to serve the club as an administrator. Out of the blue, Deriş brought forth the idea that Beşiktaş must be successful not only in football, but that it “must compete in championships in all sports branches.”
Interestingly, he has also claimed that Beşiktaş’s pocketbook could pay the debts of the other big clubs in addition to its own and, confronted with the idea that most of the income was already spent, he said: “We are going to manage our allocated income with a balanced budget and growing revenue. I’m in the club, so I know very well what we are going do to do.”
He did not state where the additional revenue would come from, but hinted that money could be saved on player salaries. “They [the players] have all contributed, but it is necessary to weigh the relationship between cost and benefit,” Deriş stated. However, he was quick to add that they were of course always looking to sign promising new footballers.
With his can-do attitude, Deriş was a bit easier on the previous chairman, expressing his belief that “Demirören’s biggest mistake was loving Beşiktaş; A Beşiktaş chairman would never make a mistake on purpose.”
They say you can never judge a man before you walk a mile -- or several controversy-encrusted years -- in his shoes, so perhaps Deriş is correct. However, the question is not whether Demirören was well-intentioned, but whether any of these three candidates can undo what he has done.