Fenerbahce furious over Champions League ban

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The Independent Football

Turkish champions Fenerbahce appealed yesterday against their exclusion from this season's Champions League over a match-fixing investigation involving the top Istanbul club which has plunged the Turkish league into turmoil.

They will be replaced by Trabzonspor, the league runners-up last season on goal difference.

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) decision, taken under pressure from European football's governing body Uefa, has added to revenue concerns among clubs since the match-fixing court case emerged, although no decision has been taken to relegate any clubs.

Fenerbahce said their loss of revenues resulting from their exclusion from the Champions League would be some €25m (£22m) and their shares tumbled 18 per cent on the Istanbul Stock Exchange yesterday. Shares in Black Sea club Trabzon, who said they expected competition income of €20m, surged 21.8 per cent.

"Our club's lawyers applied to the TFF Arbitration Board to suspend and annul the decision to bar it from the Uefa Champions League," Fenerbahce said in a statement.

More than 30 players and officials have been jailed pending trial, including the Fenerbahce chairman, Aziz Yildirim, and the coach and deputy chairman of Besiktas, in connection with alleged manipulation in 19 matches.

Fenerbahce described Uefa's stance on the issue was unlawful and that it could take legal action against both Uefa and the Turkish federation, saying that the club was "innocent until proven guilty. With this decision, the TFF has bowed to the unlawful approach of Uefa."

The club's deputy chairman, Nihat Ozdemir, said he was resigning, without giving a reason. In comments to a broadcaster he had challenged the federation to relegate Fenerbahce if it believed the club was guilty of match-fixing.

The TFF said that Uefa had written to it on Tuesday, saying Fenerbahce must withdraw from the Champions League or the TFF should take the decision to bar them or face a disciplinary investigation.