CHENNAI: After a wretched couple of weeks, Chennai City FC finally have something going their way. The I-League debutants will get to keep their home base at JN Stadium, after the sports ministry agreed to rent it to them at cheaper rates.
Tamil Nadu Sports Minister K Pandiarajan confirmed the news to Express. “The meeting went very well and we have agreed to give the stadium to them at subsidised rates. They met the sports secretary today and they have given a proposal. There was a certain aspect of maintaining parity with a comparable organisation which is more commercially oriented. But the sports secretary has agreed on a lesser fee, than they would have.
“At the same time, this is not a not for profit thing. We need to have a balance and the fee will be somewhere in between. But we are quite happy and tomorrow (Thursday) morning, they will reach an agreement.”
The minister added that his administration would seek to support TN footballers whenever possible. “Our key thing is it’s a Chennai-based organisation who are making a meaningful effort, so we would like to support them, to the extenat that at least our costs are recovered. Our line has been whatever gives us a a national or international player, we would like to support that effort. Football is one sport where we believe Tamil Nadu as a state has an advantage, because we have so many good players.”
Chennai City owner Rohit Ramesh commented that his side’s future at JN Stadium looks secure for now. “The meetings went very well,” Ramesh said.
“At the moment, it is looking like our season is secured and all matches will be played at the JN Stadium.”
Chennai City’s next game at JN Stadium is on Sunday when they take on Kolkata big guns Mohun Bagan. That match was initially under cloud but decks have now been cleared for it to go ahead.
The stadium row had erupted in the run-up to the club’s I-League debut with the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu asking the club to pay `3 lakh per game for the stadium and the adjoining training ground. The stand-off had meant that the club was only able to confirm the stadium with barely hours to go for the match against fellow newbies Minerva Punjab FC.