CHENNAI: They were up against it right from the day they got a ticket into the I-League, but things keep getting harder for Chennai City FC. With a couple of days left for their season to start, the city’s first ever I-League outfit now faces uncertainty over their home ground — the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
Express understands that the state government, which owns the JN Stadium, is demanding that Chennai City FC pay up roughly what their ISL counterparts Chennaiyin FC pay, to host home games. Sources close to the club told that they estimated the figure to come close to `3 lakh per game. “I think the government officials think that we are spending crores to get into the I-League like Chennaiyin FC did,” said a club official, who wished to remain anonymous. “They think that, like in the ISL, we stand to make money. Our highest priced ticket is `100 and we are hardly going to bring the kind of gate receipts that justify `3 lakhs.”
According to the official, the club’s initial meetings with government officials, including the sports minister, had gone well. “We had told them that this was an attempt to get the common man in for the games, and provide a platform for Tamil Nadu players. They had been extremely receptive then. But now what we are hearing is, we have to pay this huge sum every game. It is not very fair when you look at Mohun Bagan paying somewhere around `25000 per game for their ground.”
The official though reiterated that Chennai’s first game against Minerva Punjab FC was not under threat. “We are trying to put up `3 lakhs for that game as we have no time to do anything else. But after that, we have something close to two weeks before our next home game. We will continue talking to the government. But we may also have to look at an alternate home ground if things remain the same,” the official said.