Ask a Galatasaray fan who they would prefer to win the league between Fenerbahce and Besiktas, and the answer will almost always be Besiktas. Ask a Besiktas fan to choose between Galatasaray or Fenerbahce and they will be united in saying Galatasaray. Clearly, Fenerbahce are the club that everybody loves to hate.
Quite why is anyone’s guess. Possibly because of a slight arrogance, maybe a hint of feeling superior from the fans or possibly a slant of jealousy towards the blue and yellow of Istanbul.
Geographically, the club situated on the Asian side of the city are alone. With Besiktas, Galatasaray and smaller clubs such as Kasimpasa and Istanbul BB located on the European side, Fenerbahce have the whole of eastern Istanbul to themselves.
The Yellow Canaries loudly claim to have the largest fanbase in the country, while financially they have reigned supreme since chairman Aziz Yildirim took over in 1998. Yildirim’s tenure has reaped benefits with four league titles since the turn of the millennium. Players such as Nicolas Anelka, Roberto Carlos and Ariel Ortega have all donned the striped shirt, yet one thing just keeps on evading them.
Fener, as they commonly called (unlike 'Gala', which is rarely heard in Istanbul except from tourists), have failed to lift the Turkish Cup for 30 years – something that has become something of a hoodoo for them and something of a delight for the rest of the league, who take great delight in reminding them of upon every failed attempt.
Nonetheless, they have had some success in Europe. Previously serial underachievers outside Turkey, Fenerbahce matured with some notable performances in the 2007-08 Champions League, advancing from the group and eliminating Sevilla before eventually falling to Chelsea in the quarter-finals, certainly got people talking.
However, since then their record in Europe hasn’t been so good. Failure to qualify for the Champions League, and subsequently the Europa League, will no doubt have had damaging repercussions financially in 2010.
Chairman Aziz Yildirim is a chairman not lacking when it comes to support but with the club failing to win the league since 2007, the board will need to provide some silverware sooner rather than later to keep the fans happy.
The Sukru Saracoglu Stadium is impressive to say the least. One evening spent amidst the 50,000-capacity crowd will tell you exactly why UEFA chose this stadium to host the UEFA Cup Final in 2009. Visible from the Bosphorus, it has become a landmark of the Kadikoy area. If travelling from the European side you can take a ferry across from Besiktas to Kadikoy. After a 20 minutes trip, taking in the sights of Istanbul from the sea, fans take the quick walk straight to the stadium. Access via car is also easy with the stadium by a main motorway.
Explore Istanbul with our interactive map – click, drag and zoom
Guide by Sefa Atay, who writes our blog Turkish Delights
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