Balıkesirspor returns to topflight league after 38 long years

Aegean side Balıkesirspor beat Istanbul BuyukSehir Belediyespor 2-1 at home in the last match of the PTT League 1 on Sunday to finish second in the 19-strong league with 73 points from 36 games, thus gaining an automatic promotion to the Spor Toto Super League after 38 years.

Balıkesirspor had played in the Turkish Division One League, the predecessor to the Super League, only once before in the 1975-76 season under the tutelage of Candemir Berkman. The Aegean team had a great fall like Humpty Dumpty that same season and was relegated to the second division. And Bal-Kes, as Balıkesirspor is popularly called, never rose again until Sunday.

Undisputed leader Istanbul BuyukSehir Belediyespor, relegated from the Super League last season (2013-14), had garnered 78 points from 36 matches and was therefore already assured of promotion ahead of Sunday’s match at Balıkesir’s Ataturk Stadium. Put another way, this game was only a formality for Cihat Arslan’s Istanbul BuyukSehir Belediyespor.

The stadium erupted in joy after the final whistle as the players, coaches, administrators and fans celebrated Balıkesirspor’s return to the Turkish topflight league after many, many years in the football wilderness. The players of promoted Istanbul BuyukSehir Belediyespor also congratulated Balıkesirspor and there were also wild celebrations across the city of Balıkesir.

“This is an achievement that cannot be underestimated,” ecstatic Balıkesirspor coach Ismail Ertekin said after the match. “This is a great success indeed and we are rejoicing again after nearly 40 long years. A 40-year dream has finally come true,” he noted.

“We thank the club administrators, the players and the fans for all they have contributed to this success. And we are mightily happy that we accomplished this goal,” he added.

The promotion list will be completed after a four-team playoff between third place Orduspor (71 points), fourth place Ankaraspor (66), fifth place Samsunspor (65) and No. 6 Mersin Idmanyurdu (60) for the only remaining Super League spot. The third-placed team will be pitted against the sixth and the fourth against the fifth.

The three promoted teams will replace the three relegated from the Super League. So far Kayserispor and Medical Park have been demoted while the third doomed team may be decided in the penultimate week this weekend.

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN

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