ISL 2019-20: Bengaluru FC enlist Balewadi Stadium in Pune as an alternative home venue, permission to play at Kanteerava delayed

Balewadi Stadium
Balewadi Stadium

Indian Super League (ISL) side Bengaluru FC have formally announced on their social media platforms, that they have registered the Balewadi Stadium in Pune as their home venue for the upcoming season. The Blues are awaiting a favourable verdict from the Karnataka High Court after the Karnataka Athletics Association (KAA) filed a petition against the Department of Youth Empowerment and Sports (DYES), Government of Karnataka for leasing the stadium to Bengaluru FC and citing reasons of the ground being meant for athletics, not just football.

The conflict between JSW Sports and the Karnataka Athletics Association has been going on since last season after the KAA alleged destruction of the long jump pits and sprinting tracks by Bengaluru FC and Indian Super League logistics during the tournament. Vice President of KAA and former athlete BL Bharathi alleged that the inside lane was damaged because of the display boards used during ISL matches. Bengaluru FC's statement mentioned that the club is still pursuing every option available to somehow sub-lease the Kanteerava Stadium well within the season.

Bengaluru FC is set to play its first home game on October 21 and needed to finalise their home venue for the upcoming season to handle the logistics and stadium branding well in time. As of now though, the High Court is yet to come to a conclusion and it looks like the Blues would eventually have to play in Pune for a few months unless they get an unlikely favourable verdict.

September 17 was also the final day for informing the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) about the final venue but Bengaluru got lucky as the date was extended to September 18 and they had to finalise Pune as the alternative home city. The AFC allows change of venue in January, which may allow the Blues to return back home eventually depending upon the legal verdict. EKA Arena by TransStadia, Ahmedabad was also another option for the ISL Champions to shift in case Pune did not work out.

Bengaluru FC might have just become the third team after the erstwhile FC Pune City and Delhi Dynamos to shift to another city due to non-sporting reasons as the ISL continues to struggle with logistics and professional contracts.

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Edited by Raunak J
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