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Minerva Punjab stuck in Odisha storm as venue search gets further delayed

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Minerva Punjab stuck in Odisha storm as venue search gets further delayed

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Subhayan Dutta


Cyclone “Fani” has hit Odisha rather untimely as far as I-League outfit Minerva Punjab are concerned with all the club’s staff stuck in Bhubaneswar following their AFC Cup clash against Manang Marshyangdi. Minerva Punjab have 47 more days to find their home venue before their next AFC home clash.

Finding a home venue for their AFC Cup campaign was a herculean task for Minerva Punjab. After initially agreeing to give Kalinga Stadium, the Odisha Sports and Youth Services Department had backed out at the last moment that almost saw the club getting fined 200, 000 dollars per match and the owner getting banned.

It was less than a month to the match when the sports department finally decided to give the stadium to the club although just for a match as they had to start with renovations for the Women’s U-17 World Cup. And now with that match against Nepal’s Manang Marshyangdi played, Minerva Punjab CEO Ranjith Bajaj has to find yet another venue for the remaining two home matches.

However, just before they could get down for another gruelling search “Fani” hit them, delaying two more days. Minerva Punjab FC owner Ranjit Bajaj has revealed that he was supposed to start looking at three separate venues following the match on May 1 but is currently stuck with his staff in Bhubaneshwar.

“Nothing is finalized yet in terms of venue. We are stuck in Bhubaneswar in the storm. We were supposed to go to three different venues tomorrow - Goa, Kolkata and Jamshedpur. But, the storm (which is reportedly heading to Bengal next) has made the situation bad in Kolkata with flights getting cancelled. The situation isn’t very different in Guwahati as well,” said Bajaj to SportsCafe over the phone.

“My players left on the last flight out of Bhubaneshwar at 4 AM (on Friday) and the cyclone hit 4:30 AM following which all the flights were cancelled. The football team is out. But, since it was a home match, our whole working staff has been here, who are 20 in number. Hopefully, we will get some news by day after tomorrow when the airport starts functioning,” he added.

It was previously reported that Bajaj was looking at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata, the Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati and Balewadi Stadium in Pune. However, merely just convincing the state associations won’t help either as Bajaj rightly pointed out, the money asked would make all the difference.

“We would be speaking with Goa FC, Jamshedpur FC, and would really be hoping for a good response from Yuva Bharati Krirangan (Kolkata). It would depend upon what money they are charging us. They cannot charge us ATK money, which is 22 lakhs per match. Something that East Bengal and Mohun Bagan pays could do for us,” added Bajaj.

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