BENGALURU: Following a month of speculation, defending Indian Super League champions Bengaluru FC were cleared to continue playing their home games (for ISL and AFC Cup combined) at Sree Kanteerava Stadium, which has been their home for the last four seasons.
On Friday, Karnataka’s Department of Youth Empowerment & Sports (DYES) confirmed that the body that owns the stadium had issued the consent letter to Jindal Steel Works — BFC’s parent company — to play their games for the entire season. “JSW has been permitted to use the stadium for the whole season and the letter of consent has already been issued,” a source close to the development revealed.
Last week, the Karnataka High Court issued an order following a petition filed by JSW requesting access to the stadium. Another source revealed that JSW was allowed to use the stadium for 30 days of the upcoming season. The Mumbai-based company will pay a sum of Rs. 78 lakh excluding other fees for the usage.
However, it is unclear whether Bengaluru will be able to play in front of their home crowd on October 21 against NorthEast United FC. The club will need at least two to three weeks to prepare the turf. It has not been maintained since March, the end of last season. Bengaluru have although listed Balewadi stadium in Pune as their home venue in the AFC and AIFF club licensing documents last month. The club, however, refused to comment on the development.
“In the last week of September, the court directed DYES to allow JSW to use the stadium. Just like how it is rented out to others, the same procedure will be followed for them. But it’s up to BFC to decide if they want to play the first match here or not,” the source said.
The venue has been a bone of contention between the club, DYES and Karnataka Athletics Association (KAA) for the last two years. Athletes alleged that football activities had hampered their training, as they
could not use the synthetic track and the football pitch. The playing surface is barricaded during the football season. A day before match-day, two lanes of the track are occupied by broadcast equipment
Following public interest litigation (different from the one filed by JSW) from a group of athletes in December 2017, the High Court instructed the state government to probe the matter into which JSW was
allowed to use the stadium. The government is scheduled to file the report on October 14.