Sheffield United: Generous gesture from Turkish champions

Fenerbahce's head coach Ersun Yanal speaks to the media
Fenerbahce's head coach Ersun Yanal speaks to the media

Fenerbahce waved their right to an appearance fee in order to help stage this month’s prestigious friendly with Sheffield United, writes James Shield.

Ersun Yanal’s side usually command a significant six figure sum when they are approached to take part in pre-season games.

But Selahattin Baki, the United director whose contacts in Turkey proved instrumental in arranging the fixture, confirmed a combination of factors, including Bramall Lane’s willingness to contribute towards the Soma Mining Disaster Fund, provoked the reigning Super Lig champion’s gesture.

“Since we already have a good relationship with Fenerbahce, when Sheffield United extended the invitation, they accepted immediately and didn’t raise any financial issues,” Baki said. “Social responsibilities come first.

“Also, because the region of Sheffield and South Yorkshire is well-known for mining and heavy industry, this always played an important part in Fenerbahce’s decision.”

Three hundred and one people died during the underground fire at Soma, 145 miles from Istanbul, in May.

United, who announced yesterday that the gate receipts from July 31st’s match, issued a statement expressing their condolences during the immediate aftermath of the tragedy and Baki added: “The fact that Sheffield United were among the first two clubs, Liverpool being the other, to deliver a directive saying their thoughts were with those affected did also not go unnoticed.

“Sheffield and South Yorkshire is known for its heavy industry. So, because of that, I think the people have an empathy and understanding for what happened in Soma.

“We have a story in Turkey about a character who falls off a roof. People ask if he wants them to call a doctor and he replies: ‘No, get me someone who has fallen off a roof.’

“The people here know the challenges that people who work in these industries face.”

United, meanwhile, will continue their preparations for the new League One season at the Redtooth Academy next week. Nigel Clough’s players reported back for duty on Thursday after finishing seventh in the table and reaching the FA Cup semi-finals last term.

Elliott Whitehouse, who left United earlier this summer, is believed to be training with Notts County. Bristol City, who visit Bramall Lane on August 9, are also thought to have been monitoring the midfielder’s situation.

Whitehouse, a member of the United squad which reached the FA Youth Cup final in 2011, has previously represented York City and Alfreton Town on loan.

Fenerbahce’s outing at United forms, according to their official website, “part of a 12 day preparatory camp” ahead of the 2015/15 Super Lig campaign.

“According to the agreement made between the two clubs,” it continues, “Revenue derived from the match will be donated to Soma.”

Ticket prices and further details about the meeting between United and Fenerbahce are scheduled to be released shortly.

*Twitter: @JamesShield1