Kolkata may miss ISL matches this year

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Kolkata may miss ISL matches this year

West Bengal Sports minister Aroop Biswas yesterday has hinted at the possibility of the ISL matches for the upcoming season being moved out of Kolkata. The concerns arise as the Salt Lake stadium, the home ground of the Atletico de Kolkata team, is being prepared for the U-17 World Cup next year.

Speaking to media on the sidelines of a function, Biswas said the Salt Lake stadium or the Yuva Bharati Krirangana, as it is called, needed FIFA clearance to be used as an ISL venue. India hosts the U-17 football next year, and the stadium is a major venue for the tournament.“The FIFA deadline (to complete renovation of the stadium) is October but we are targeting to end it by September. Since the ISL is starting in October, it depends on whether the FIFA guidelines allow the stadium to be used for any other tournament prior to the under-17 World Cup. “In case it is not permitted then the ISL matches have to shifted,” said Biswas.

In the event of the stadium being ruled out, the Barasat stadium or the Kanchenjunga stadium in Siliguri present themselves as alternatives. However, the Barasat, which plays host to the I-league teams Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, may lose out due to its low capacity and the poor condition of the pitch.

Earlier during the I-League season, the second Kolkata derby was also shifted out of the Salt Lake Stadium, and it was played in Siliguri. The stadium had hosted the 2012 Federation Cup as well, along with 2015 I-League second division matches. However, the stadium also hosts cricket matches, and the cricket pitch at the center of the park was awfully visible during the clash between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan earlier this year.

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