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By ESPN Staff
Jan 4, 2006

Finances overshadow Galatasaray training camp

ISTANBUL, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Heavily indebted Galatasaray set off for a training camp in southern Turkey on Wednesday short of key players and management staff, media reports said, although a rumoured boycott over unpaid wages did not materialise.

Croatian defender Stjepan Tomas and Serbian midfielder Sasa Ilic failed to join the squad on its trip to the resort of Antalya amid rumours they may leave the club because of the financial problems, the state Anatolian news agency reported.

A club spokeswoman was unable to confirm the report.

Media said the club failed last week to honour a pledge to pay several months of unpaid wages and the players were planning to boycott the camp if wages were not paid by Tuesday.

Belgian coach Eric Gerets said before a training session on Tuesday that morale in the squad was good and that he did not think players would abandon the club.

'Of course money problems are discussed among us... I know how much the chairman has worked to sort this situation out, but the team needs positive news,' he told reporters.

Club veterans Hakan Sukur, Hasan Sas and Ergun Penbe stayed in Istanbul for the funeral on Thursday of a club official who died this week. Anatolian said none of the club's management joined the squad on the journey to Antalya.

Galatasaray decided at a general meeting at the end of last year to put on hold the chairman's plan to sell land belonging to the club in Istanbul to raise funds.

The former UEFA champions play at a run-down stadium in the city and the chairman has faced criticism from within the club for failing to modernise it or push through plans for a new stadium.

When the winter break began on Dec. 18, Galatasaray were second in the Turkish first division on 41 points, four points behind their Istanbul rivals Fenerbahce.

Galatasaray will take part in a four-way tournament in Antalya with Besiktas, Borussia Dortmund and Werder Bremen from Jan. 6 to 9.