ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey’s Trabzonspor are withdrawing from the country’s top tier basketball league for the 2018-19 season, citing financial issues and rising exchange rates, in one of the first signs of a major sports club being hit by the country’s currency crisis.
The decision by one the country's biggest clubs comes as Turkey grapples with a currency crisis in which the Turkish lira TRYTOM=D3 has plunged about 40 percent against the U.S. dollar this year.
The crisis, attributed to an “economic war” against Turkey by President Tayyip Erdogan, has led to a meltdown in the lira, which in August hit a record low of 7.20 to the dollar. The lira reached its strongest level in almost two months on Monday before weakening again on Tuesday.
A leading club from Turkey’s Black Sea region, Trabzonspor (TSPOR.IS) were formed in 1967 and their soccer and basketball teams have regularly challenged Istanbul rivals Fenerbahce, Galatasaray and Besiktas.
In a statement on the website of the Trabzonspor basketball team, they said they were forced to make this announcement after failing to solve their financial problems and being unable to secure a sponsor.
“Unfortunately, we were unable to overcome the burdens of heavy financial issues accumulated over the years, the effects of the global economic crisis and the rise in exchange rates,” they said.
The club said they would carry out their responsibilities under the current financial situation and vowed to return to the league as soon as they returned to competitive levels.
“Our unbreakable back on the court has unfortunately been ‘temporarily’ broken by economic problems. However, we haven’t tapped out yet,” they said.
Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu, editing by Ed Osmond