Teams all over Europe are fighting off economic realities and in some cases are installing desperate plans to keep their clubs afloat. But Turkey’s most celebrated team, Efes Pilsen Istanbul, may soon be closing due to public health legislation.
A bill currently being mulled over by Turkish legislators would make sweeping changes to alcohol and tobacco advertising regulations. Among the legal redefinitions of the products’ distribution, the new law would also ban the sponsorship of sports club by vendors of such products, including mighty Efes Pilsen, a sponsor of both the Istanbul squad and Euroleague basketball.
Tuncay Özilhan, literally one of the world’s richest people and chairman of the Anadolu Group, which owns Efes Beverage Group, has stated that should the bill enter into law, the team and concomitant organization will simply be folded, rather than seek out a new sponsor or merger. The Beşiktaş team (currently known as Beşiktaş Cola Turka) had been rumored to be a possible candidate for merger with the Efes team.
Such a move would be devastating unto tragic for the TBL and Euroleague, as Efes Pilsen is clearly the most celebrated club in Turkey, with achievements including 13 Turkish Basketball League championship titles since the team’s foundation in 1978 (and 10 since 1991); a Euroleague Final Four bid in 2000 and several Top 16 entries in the 2000s; and the 1996 Korac Cup, the first European basketball title taken by Turkey.