I-League 2017/18: East Bengal and Mohun Bagan matches likely to be shifted from Salt Lake Stadium
What's the story?
Due to close proximity of matches at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan, Kolkata, several home fixtures of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan may be shifted away, due to pitch maintenance issues.
In case you didn't know...
The Indian Arrows will also play their opening two home fixtures in Goa as the Ambedkar Stadium and Jawaharlal Nehru Stadiums, New Delhi are unavailable. The two proposed venues are Bambolim Stadium and Tilak Maidan, as the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda is unavailable due to FC Goa and Churchill Brothers home games.
The heart of the matter
The Sports Ministry of West Bengal Government has asserted that a minimum two-day gap is imperative for proper playing conditions and maintenance issues. But on the contrary, several of ATK, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan games have less than two days gap.
FSDL (Football Sports Development Limited) booked the stadium three months prior to the Indian Super League kick-off, and now the onus in on AIFF to shift matches to the suburbs in Kolkata.
East Bengal and Mohun Bagan are looking at Barasat Stadium and Rabindra Sarobar Stadium as possible replacement venues, according to sources. As many as four East Bengal and three Mohun Bagan matches are may be shifted away.
Let's have a look at the fixtures with less than two days gap which are scheduled to take place in the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata.
ISL, 26 November: ATK vs FC Pune City
I-League, 28 November: East Bengal vs Aizawl FC
I-League, 9 December: East Bengal vs Shillong Lajong
I-League, 10 December: Mohun Bagan vs Churchill Brothers
I-League, 14 December: Mohun Bagan vs Shillong Lajong
I-League, 16 December: East Bengal vs Churchill Brothers
I-League, 27 December: East Bengal vs Kerala FC
I-League, 29 December: Mohun Bagan vs Indian Arrows
ISL, 31 December: ATK vs FC Goa
I-League, 2 January: Mohun Bagan vs Chennai City FC
ISL, 3 February: ATK vs Bengaluru FC
I-League, 5 February: East Bengal vs Indian Arrows
Hence, as many as nine I-League matches are colliding within themselves and the Indian Super League fixtures in space of two days and are in danger to be shifted away or postponed.
Sources close to Mohun Bagan have suggested that three of Mohun Bagan home games on 10th December, 29th December and 2nd January would be shifted to Barasat Stadium.
Sports Ministry of West Bengal are scheduled to stage a meeting with East Bengal and Mohun Bagan over shifting away matches or postpone them for accomodation.
This comes up as a blow to both All India Football Federation and the two Kolkata Giants, as both the available stadiums namely Barasat Stadium and Rabinda Sarobar Stadium are far up North and South respectively thus restricting fans to attend the matches if they are shifted away.
This also jeopardizes the telecast partners of I-League, Star Sports as they now have to bear extra costs to set up feed in the other two stadiums to telecast the shifted games.