I-League 2017-18: East Bengal may be forced to concede walkover in their league opener
What's the story?
East Bengal may have to concede a walkover forcefully in their opening I-League tie which scheduled to be played at iconic Salt lake Stadium against defending champions Aizwal FC on November 28th due to the possible unavailability of the venue, following an Indian Super League fixture a couple of days earlier.
ATK will play their first home match in the above-mentioned stadium against Pune City FC on November 26th.
In case you didn't know....
From this year, the Indian Super League and the I-League will be played simultaneously after a possible merger was scrapped due to various reasons earlier this year. In addition to this, the ISL now comprises of 10 teams with the inclusion of Bengaluru FC and Jamshedpur FC.
The winners of the ISL will get a ticket to play in the AFC Cup while the I-League winners will book an AFC Champions League berth.
The heart of the matter
As per the rules set by the State Government, the actual owner of the 85,000 seated Salt Lake Stadium; it can host matches only in three-day intervals. So, if ATK plays its match against Pune City FC, hosting a match on the 28th will violate the rules.
The Red and Gold brigade played their home matches at the Barasat stadium while the Salt Lake Stadium was being renovated for the 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup.
East Bengal is one of the most prominent forces in Indian football and will be unfortunate if they lose points based on these circumstances.
Either the venue must be shifted; most probably the Barasat Stadium or the dates must be altered. A special arrangement can also be made with the permission of West Bengal Government.
With ATK set to play their home matches at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan and the Kolkata giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan also hoping to stage theirs at the same venue, there is every chance that the ground will be hosting two-three matches in a succession in a short time.
The AIFF officials along with the State Football Associations should have been more careful before making the fixtures for the smooth running of the leagues.