BENGALURU: After five seasons of Indian Super League, clubs have been on the move. Delhi Dynamos shifted their base to Odisha while FC Pune City moved to Hyderabad citing various reasons. Now, the defending champions Bengaluru FC are also staring at a possible move out of the city.
The Sree Kanteerava Stadium has been Bengaluru’s home ground since 2014. But in December 2017, a group of athletes filed a public interest litigation against the Karnataka Department of Youth Empowerment and Sports (DYES) and Jindal Steel Works (JSW) — Bengaluru’s parent company — alleging that football activities had been hampering their training. The Karnataka High Court in July instructed the government to hold an inquiry into the process through which Bengaluru was allowed to use the stadium. With the deadline for that being October 14, DYES is waiting for directives from the government.
However, Bengaluru have to register a venue for AFC Cup matches by September 15 and at least a month before their first home game (October 21) for the Indian Super League. As the deadline approaches, without any indication from either DYES or the government, the club has been forced to look for alternate venues. CEO Mandar Tamhane, on Friday, said that while they were hopeful of sorting things out with DYES, they were considering Ahmedabad or Pune as possible alternatives.
“The AFC deadline was August 25 and it was extended to September 15. But if we don’t get the desired venue, we have the option to change it at a later date (latest by January 15). However, for the sake of logistics and preparing the pitch, we have to register one for ISL maximum by September 21-23. Odisha was an option but as Delhi moved there, now Ahmedabad and Pune are likely alternatives,” said Tamhane.
Tamhane also added that playing from a different city would be difficult for the club and would be the last resort. “Playing from outside Bengaluru is not going to be good for us and it’s something we don’t want. It is going to hamper us massively — be it fans or the comfort zone. So, we are not just hopeful, but wishful that things get sorted out as soon as possible. Talks are happening on various fronts and we hope for the matter to be resolved soon. We want everyone to use the venue and have been heavily involved with athletics and other sports. So, we don’t have any ill intention,” said Tamhane.
Carles Cuadrat’s men began practising for the upcoming season on Friday. There will be no pre-season trip abroad this time. Instead, Bengaluru will train in the city before moving to JSW’s Vijayanagara facility on September 23. The club will also play a few friendly matches against I-League clubs.