I-League 2017: After fans' uproar, East Bengal cancel plans of playing home matches at Mohun Bagan ground
What’s the story?
East Bengal made a U-turn after a proposal for playing their I-League home matches at Mohun Bagan’s ground was met with hostility from fans. After fans uproar on social media, the East Bengal officials had no other option but to change his decision.
Within just 24 hours, East Bengal have changed their decision. Though there was no confirmation of the same but speculations were there that the Red & Gold brigade may play at Mohun Bagan’s ground in the ongoing I-League.
In the current I-League season, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal are forced to play some of their home matches at the Barasat Stadium, which has artificial turf. A number of players have already shown their concerns about possible injuries on the artificial surface.
The iconic Salt Lake Stadium is unavailable for some matches as ISL side ATK will be playing their home games at the venue. Mohun Bagan had already asked AIFF to grant them the permission to play at their home ground. The league organisers had also agreed to the change and had given their go-ahead, as long as the broadcasters were fine with the venue change.
The heart of the matter
The rivalry between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan spans over almost a 100 years, and it is something that will never change. These two clubs share one of the longest football rivalries in the world and now the proposal of using Mariners’ ground for East Bengal's home matches has irked Red and Golds' supporters.
The fans expressed that it would be a huge humiliation for them. While East Bengal also have their own home ground, their arena does not have floodlights as of yet, something that would cause a problem for the evening kickoffs.
However, the installation of the floodlights at East Bengal ground is in the process, and the arena is likely to be available for use from some time next year.
In 1975, East Bengal actually played at Mohun Bagan ground in the historic IFA Shield final. For now, however, that practice has stopped, and the East Bengal officials need to figure out a suitable alternative to the Barasat Stadium.
The revolt of the fans is quite understandable. The age-old rivalry between these two sides can only grow as Indian football takes giant strides. The most exciting part is that the rivalry is the biggest USP of Indian football.