Dispute over venues leads Santosh Trophy to move out of Delhi

Dispute over venues leads Santosh Trophy to move out of Delhi

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The All India Football Federation and Delhi Soccer Association were at loggerheads over the venue for the next edition of Santosh Trophy. After both the bodies were unable to find common ground, AIFF decided not to give the hosting rights to Delhi and now the tournament has now been moved out.

AIFF wanted to host the historical knockout tournament, which sees participants from the regional state associations and government institutions, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium but the DSA was keener to shift the tournament at the Ambedkar Stadium. Though DSA assured that the facilities would be upgraded at the Ambedkar Stadium, AIFF wanted that in writing from Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).

"They wanted to do the tournament at JLN but hosting it there, instead of Ambedkar defeats the whole purpose. People hardly go to the Nehru stadium and it is expensive, too,” said DSA president Shaji Prabhakaran, reported PTI. 

“Moreover, I had personally given them assurances that everything will be sorted and they (MCD) were on board also but they are not obliged to give us in writing at such short notice. The AIFF was still not convinced," Prabhakaran added.

Despite not being the first priority, the Ambedkar Stadium did host some big tournaments in the past like the Nehru Cup and final of the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup. It has been hosting the second division I-League matches as of now.

"We have hosted so many big tournaments. The last time we hosted the Santosh Trophy, in 2004, it was a big hit and was one of the best-organised events," DSA spokesperson N K Bhatia said.

"We kept waiting for AIFF's venue observer and when he eventually came, he seemed to be in a hurry and left without proper inspection of the stadium. If they had made up their mind to give the tournament to Punjab, then why make us go through all this," Bhatia added.

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