With the promotion of Ümraniyespor and Istanbulspor, the number of Istanbul teams in the Turkish Süper Lig has reached eight, bringing Turkey’s most populous city to the center of Turkish football next season, and turning the organization into an “Istanbul league.”
In 2022-23 season, some 19 teams from 11 out of all 81 provinces will compete. These provinces are Istanbul, the capital Ankara, the central Anatolian provinces of Konya, Kayseri and Sivas, the Black Sea provinces of Trabzon and Giresun, the Mediterranean coastal provinces of Antalya, Adana and Hatay and the southeastern province of Gaziantep.
However, Istanbul will be the one dominating the league with the three giants, Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray, the 2019-20 season champion Başakşehir, two district teams, Kasımpaşa and Karagümrük, and two newcomers, Ümra-niye and Istanbulspor.
Süper Lig will host some 324 matches next season, with nearly half, some 144 being played in Istanbul. Some 36 will be played in Antalya, the city hosting Alanyaspor and Antalyaspor. In the other provinces, only 18 matches will be played in each.
The situation will surely be in favour of Istanbul teams as each will be playing 25 out of all 36 matches inside the city. An Istanbul team will leave the town for only 11 times for away matches.
Statistics show that an Istanbul team will travel around 9,000 kilometers through the season.
Gaziantep is the furthest city from Istanbul and its team, Gaziantep FK, will be the “most exhausted team” next season having to travel to Istanbul for eight times.
With the matches in other provinces, Gaziantep FK players will travel approximately 14,700 kilometers next year, data showed.
Istanbul teams will be lucky as they will make the “shortest trips” for “away matches” inside the city.
Turkey’s third biggest city, İzmir, will not have representation in Süper Lig next season, as the city’s two teams, Altay and Göztepe, were relegated to “First Lig” this season.
The two Istanbul newcomers also caused a debate between prominent figures of the Turkish sports world.
“Two teams do not have their own stadiums. Besides, Ümraniyespor does not have spectators. Football is not a sport to be played without having the joy of spectate,” Yılmaz Vural, a veteran head coach, said.
“Istanbul or Anatolian teams… I hope to see all who deserve to be in Süper Lig,” Recep Uçar, another head coach, commented.
Hurriyet Daily News