Ali Ay, the Chairperson of Bursaspor Football Club made special explanations for Blue Green about many issues from Bursaspor to his business life, from his private life to his goals. Stating that his biggest dream is to become champion again; ''My life consists of two parts, my family on the one side and Bursaspor on the other'' said Ali AY.
Mr. Chairperson, can we initially know you a bit closer?
I was born in Bursa in 1957. I was born in Irfaniye village, which is 20 kilometers away from Bursa. I spent my life in Bursa. I had been in Germany for university education for 7 years. I graduated from Atatürk High School. Then I went abroad. I graduated from high textile chemistry engineering faculty in the university abroad. I met my wife there. Then, we came back to Bursa in 1984. In Bursa, I worked as an operating manager in two organizations. Then we founded İlay Textile and we still proceed on our wat in İlay Textile now. We are one of the leading exporters in textile sector in Bursa. I hope, it will continue advancing hereafter. I have 2 sons, and 1 bride. In addition, as you all know, I have a grandchild. Of course, there is one more thing I should mention that is related to my being from Bursa, that is to say I have a team on which I set my heart to. Bursaspor is like my third son. I made financial and moral contributions before I become the Chairperson as well. We still continue to make such contribution. I mean my life goes on like this.
You have a passion for Bursaspor much higher than normal. Well than Mr. Chairperson, when, where and how did this love take place?
What seems strange to me most is that many of our friends, who were born and live in Bursa, and that have a factory here support Istanbul teams. I feel very bad about this. That is to say; I lived abroad in places such as Mönchengladbach, Duisburg etc. I have never seen, heard there about the fans of other teams. I mean the people are the supporter of that city’s team in which city they were born, where they eat and fill their stomach. In this respect, I would like to express my complaints about Bursa. In other words, never be the supporter of other teams while Bursaspor is available right here. I believe, the God will Show them what is true. I mean, this love is something that comes from childhood. We used to go to the matches. You know, I was just beside the stadium as I attended Atatürk high School. Well, Ajax, Dundee United matches were the competitions that we went by taking permission from the school. Even at that time, our legs used to shake when we were watching the matches. We set our heart on this club. As I said just a while ago, it is as if my third son.
We already know that you perform several studies that direct the success of Bursaspor. How do you evaluate the point, arrived at this very moment?
Our biggest aim was rather correcting the financial table while we came to the power. We made great efforts about that. I mean, we could not have the sportive success unfortunately, but we felt deeply sorry for that as well. When we considered the financial table, we now have a debt in the amount of TL 400 million plus a few hundreds. I mean, it was about Euro 100 million when we took it over. I mean, we probably dropped it to the levels of Euro 65-70 millions. However, is this an accomplishment for me? No, it should have been much more than this but, unfortunately, I failed to have the support, which I imagined, I desired to have, from the citizens of Bursa. Of course, here I would like to thank Bursagaz a lot. Acknowledge all industrialists, sponsors, who supported us due to their supports for us. God bless them, because as you know the clubs can survive with the sponsors, fans, tribune revenues plus the sale of footballers. This is why; I anticipated there would have been much more support but, unfortunately they disappointed me. Therefore, we work a lot. I mean, one of the main things that upsets me a lot is the fact that we still could not sell the name right of the stadium. It is a value in our hands. We started the operations regarding the shops under the stadium. I hope, we will make a deal more or less with someone today or tomorrow. I guess that we will realize these sales within 6 months. When we have accomplished this, we will have permanent revenues. I hereby would like to express my thanks for our governors, the old governor, the old mayor and recently elected Mayor, Alinur Aktaş. Well, there were some comments about that on social media and press. This made me very upset. Because, nearly a revenue close to the amount of 60-70 million was obtained from the lands only, since we came to power. However, these were achieved thanks to the supports by our mayors, governors etc. I kindly ask people to be a little bit careful while they are talking about these issues.
Where do your interest for sport arise? Were there any sports branch you were interested in during your youth?
No, there was not. I live and breathe for football. I do not watch other matches that much. The only matches, I watch are the matches of Bursaspor and the matches of national team. That is to say, I live and breathe for Bursaspor.
The people know you only for your identity as the chairperson of Bursaspor. How is Ali Ay in his private life? You are a grandfather at the same time. Can you allocate enough time for your grandchild? Is he interested in sports and at what level?
My grandchild became 3 years old a short time ago. I lead a humble life. I mean, we are fortunately a happy family with my spouse and children at home. I get up at 7 in the morning, I sometimes get up at 6:30 a.m. I go to the factory. I spend my time in the factory; I mean it was like this before I was the Chairperson of the club. In the evening, I arrive home and I do not have that much contact with outside. Sometimes, we go outside for dinner once or twice a week. That is to say, all my life passes like this with my children and grandchild. However, at these days, of course, I cannot see my grandchild that much. I can see him only once a week that is it. Because we spend a lot of effort. It will be 3 years by January 19. We have spent a lot of efforts about the club for 3 years. I am in the factory until noon once I have been selected a Chairperson, I arrive the club in the afternoon. I mean our work is all about books and accounts.
It is known that you love the city of Bursa as much as you love Bursaspor. Are there any occasions, which you could not forget about the city?
I worked as a Professional director in Bursa for 5 years. At that time, some offers were made from İstanbul and even abroad. But I am just an exact lover of Bursa. I did not want to leave Bursa and go somewhere else. The offers were quite good. I love Bursa a lot. This city is a gift from God for us, we should know the value of this. I visited many cities all around the world, Bursa is one of the most beautiful one with its mountains on the one side and sea on the other as well as 3 millions of people.
Well, the moment, which I cannot forget is the moment when we became the champion. I had even cried sobbingly in the match on that day. Because it was a very important day for us. I hope, God will show us those days again. I consider the last year as a lost year. This year we have some studies about the youth setup. Our coach fortunately pays much attention to our young friends. Well you know, we are probably the youngest team of European leagues now. Our age average is 22,5. Vakıfköy is visited certainly once a week. I also visit there sometimes. I mean, those children will improve themselves a little more and play football for Bursaspor. If God lets, we will see those days because the people trained there are above all the individuals that have sense of belonging. Most of them are from Bursa anyway. I mean, if we are to become champions again, I certainly believe that this will happen with those children.
Let me add such a question once you have told these. Dou you think the interest in sports both in Turkey and Bursa, promote young to sports? What is the situation of both Turkey and Bursa in this respect?
You know, we have a Professional team, employed in this respect. They plotted the gen map of Turkey. Well, in this map it was announced that the closest city to sports is Bursa. You know Bursa is a city that took a lot of migrants from outside. There people coming from the Balkans, Black Sea and the East. There emerged a very nice sportsmen identity from the mixture of all these people. I think we should turn this into an advantage. The state, municipalities, mayors made very good investments to promote the youth for sports. I think, every individual, every citizen of Bursa should definitely carry out an activity in any sports branch rather than they spend time in the corners of the cafes, parks etc.
You made some assessments about some industrialists regarding their being a fan of the teams of İstanbul, however; how do you evaluate the interest of Bursa in the sports and Bursaspor in general? How doo you find this? Is it adequate?
No. I just want to say that. Unfortunately it is not at an adequate level. Bursaspor is a big family, I mean; the biggest city team in Turkey is Bursaspor. It is a big brand. In fact, we need to uplift this trademark much higher. I stated that thing in all of my speeches. As a city, Bursa is the second biggest industrial city in Turkey and the second biggest export city of Turkey. I mean, the team of this city must play for becoming a champion every year. Nevertheless, how to realize this champion ship? It can be accomplished with contributions, sponsorships. Because, this is an industry ultimately. You should have given something so that you could take a provision. Here, I want both our fans, industrialists and businesspersons to be a bit more sensitive. Because, we do not want them to make us a donation or grant. Because we have many sponsorship areas, we have lodges, seats. I mean, we want them to buy and market these. I hope these days will also arrive soon.
VAR system is one of the most interesting questions. How do you consider this system? How did it affect the teams, and Bursaspor in particular?
We met Referee Yusuf in the camp. We also met with Yusuf Namoğlu, the Head of MHK. And we saw Cüney Çakır in the morning. Referee Bülent was also with Referee Yusuf. They have already determined by themselves. Currently Bursaspor is the team in Turkish leagues that lost the highest points due to VAR system. And they also told us the point, it is 8 points. Now can you imagine we have 21 points, when 8 points are added thereon, our points must be 29. But I support this system despite this. We should support it. You already know, it gradually increases. I believe that there will be more justice as long as “VAR” system is available. I am one of the believers. It will continue like this, but I believe it will be better.
Let me give some examples from Germany, which you have mentioned shortly before. You lived abroad. How do they approach sports? What is their difference from Bursa and Turkey? What can you say about this?
You know, the fans support their teams much the same in abroad. Today Dortmund plays for 80 thousand people. And most of the combined tickets had been sold. Here we play for 20 thousand people on average. Here, I will rebuke our fans a little bit. To begin with, all of them they are the most welcome for me, I love all of them a lot. But they should also prevent these runaway entries. We took actions in the last two matches exceedingly and we could have prevented more or less 70%, 80% of that. But, they should definitely inform us or the security forces if they encounter such a situation. This is the first point. And the second point is that a great many sales are made from the stores abroad. With our sales, our friends can unfortunately feed themselves, they can only cover their own costs. The number of the jerseys we sell a year is around 15 thousand. But I sadly see that there are many fake jerseys and products. Here, I once again state that it is our fans duty to change this situation. They shouldn’t buy those fake jerseys as the municipal police are in a position not to be able to cope with the same. If they do not buy those products, those manufacturers of the fake jerseys will not be able to sell them. There is not that much pressure in Europe, here there is a lot of pressure. You know, everything is worse with the spread of social media. We all know that they bid farewell to their teams with applause when their teams drop from the league so that they could take place in the upper league again. Because, it is their team after all. They applaud once again when they become champions, they shoulder the team. After all, we play football, we do sports. I believe that competition should only be on the pitch and all clubs should be brothers outside the pitch.