Turkish Super Lig
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On the Rise
Founded in 1959 the Turkcell Super Lig is the top flight Turkish football league. Association football is the most popular sport in the country and the Turkcell Super Lig has been gaining a solid reputation steadily since it was founded. The league began from fairly humble beginnings but now the top two squads can qualify for the champions league entering in the third and second rounds respectively. The league is set up very similar to all of the other leagues in Europe in that each teams place the others in the league twice, once at home and once away. There are 18 teams in the league and 34 matches in a season with the bottom three teams being relegated to the TFF First league at the end of the season. Three teams are then promoted from the lower league into the Turkcell Super Lig. The thing that stands out most about the Super Lig is how it has been able to grow steadily into the force that it is today.
The league began in 1959 as an attempt to unite the fragmented national leagues around Turkey. Today it is a blossoming league with over 50 million pound being spent on new players last year. The reason for this has been several fold, but perhaps the biggest reason has been the new television contracts and sponsorships. In 2005 it was announced that Turkcell had signed on for a five year sponsorship. This sponsorship brought in a significant amount of money to all of the teams within the league. There had been attempts for many years to land a sponsor for the league but none of them worked out. Once Turkcell stepped up to the plate though the league had a legitimate big time sponsor. With this sponsorship it is predicted that the Super Lig will continue to grow and bring in some of the worlds top talent.
Currently the Super Lig places 11th in the UEFA coefficient rankings, but has risen from 14th the previous season. They sit poised to crack into the top ten and with the continued increase in attendance this may become a reality sooner as opposed to later. A lot of this will depend on the success of the top teams in the Super Lig. Many of these teams have a rich tradition of competitive play, however taking it up a level may not be something they are capable of. The fans of the league may beg to differ with that opinion as many of the teams play to full sized stadiums completely sold out on a regular basis.
One of the teams that will have to carry the torch if the Turkcell Super Lig expects to become one of the top leagues in Europe is Fanerbache. Fenerbahce or the Fenerbahçe Spor Kulübü commonly known as Fener is probably the most decorated team in the super league. It was founded in 1907 and plays out of the Kadikoy district in Istanbul Turkey derives their name from a famous lighthouse there. They currently play at Sukru Saracoglu Stadium which has a current capacity of 52,056. The stadium was renovated in 2006 to become on of the finest facilities in the world and will host the 2009 UEFA Cup final. This stadium is s shining example of what it will take to bring the top league in Turkey to the level of some of the other leagues throughout Europe. Fener has won the Turkish league 17 times and has a host of other minor international and national trophies. This team, with their massive stadium and recent success, is going to be one of the teams that needs to be at the forefront to make the Turkish Super Lig into something special.
Another team that also needs to be successful for the league to succeed is Galatasaray. This team is also based out of Istanbul is is the most successful team in all of Turkish football. This success has extended somewhat beyond the borders of Turkey and they continue to be on the rise. Founded in 1905 they are tied with Fener with 17 Super League Championships. However, in addition to that Galatasaray has made a strong showing in many of the tournaments around Europe. This includes making it to the European Cup semi finals once and quarter finals three times. In addition they have captured both the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup. They were also the first team from Turkey to participate in the Champions League and have been in the league the most times with 10.
For the Turkcell Super Lig to have success internationally both of these teams are going to need to continue to attract start players and increase revenue. When these two teams succeed it benefits Turkish football as a whole and will help to keep the UEFA coefficient on the rise. Hopefully someday one of teams from the super league will make it to the finals and perhaps even challenge for a cup.