CHENNAI: Five lakh for every day a match is played. Three lakh for non-match days, one and-a-half lakh of those just for the two pitches. Rs 3500 every time a room is used at the stadium. Twelve rupees for every hour the generator is used to power the floodlights. Diesel costs extra.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) must have expected a red carpet welcome when they announced plans to bring the Indian football team to Chennai after 22 years, but instead they were hit with a tariff card for the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium that Indian Super League franchises usually have to bear. As a result, the camp and two friendlies that were part of it have been shifted to Mumbai.
“We have shifted it,” AIFF secretary Kushal Das told Express. “It’s the national federation conducting an international tournament with national teams including that of India. We’re trying to bring international football to Chennai after 22 years. It’s sad that the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) treats football in this manner.”
AIFF officials had first approached the SDAT nearly a month ago. Sources in the federation said that officials then had virtually assured them of the stadium. Even after no official order came after a couple of weeks, AIFF officials were led to believe that everything was in place and an order (including what to pay) would come before the team landed for the camp.
On Wednesday, that order finally came and the money being quoted was too much to bear. Just the use of the two practice pitches (JN Stadium and Nehru Park) for non-match days, would have cost AIFF around Rs 1.5 lakh. To compare, whenever they camp at stadiums across the country, the AIFF pays Rs 7000 for practice pitches. An entire camp elsewhere would cost what three days in Chennai would.
“We are cancelling the flights and hotels we’ve booked for the Indian team,” a source close to the federation said. “We are cancelling flights for the teams that were supposed to come in. We have to rebook everything in Mumbai. And still, we’ll be spending less than we would have had we paid the SDAT what they were asking.” The SDAT officials who were contacted were unwilling to comment.
This is not the first time government apathy is costing Chennai an international football match. In 2014, the city was set to host two international matches against Palestine that eventually went to Siliguri. The state government's version was that the JN Stadium was yet to be formally inaugurated by the then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.