The Cooperage ground, which is a heritage site, was cleared for renovation last month and was set to host the game between Air India and Salgaocar on January 8, 2013....Just as when Mumbaikars thought they would finally get to see an I-League match in their city, their hopes were dashed by the Western India Football Association (WIFA) are yet to complete some financial formalities with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) over the usage of the Cooperage ground. The ground which was set to host its first I-League match after nearly three years on January 8 will now most likely be available for use only in March.
The WIFA had cleared a major hurdle when they obtained a No-Objection-Certificate (NOC) from the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) for the Cooperage as it was deemed a heritage site. The ground was set to be renovated and was scheduled to host Air India's match against Salgaocar on January 8, 2013. But outstanding payments from the WIFA to the BMC have put a spanner in these plans.
"While the NOC has been obtained, we have a list of formalities that include payments to the BMC for a host of things and we should start the process soon. We have already received the demand letter from the BMC and within a weeks time we should start making the payments. Given the number of formalities ,it would be safe to say that Cooperage would not see any I-League action in January," said Henry Menezes, CEO of WIFA to The Times Of India.
This impediment in the Cooperage saga will ensure that fans in Mumbai will miss out on 9 games that would have been hosted at the ground and with the league taking a 40-day break after February 10, it only compounds the woes of a city that plays host to three clubs participating in the ongoing I-League season namely - Mumbai FC, Air India and ONGC FC, who will continue playing their home games at Pune and Delhi respectively.
"The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has been informed of the delay and its our endeavour to get all the formalities completed as soon as possible. Although we are excited, we do not want to rush things and do a temporary job. A process takes time and all we can do is have patience," added Menezes.
Menezes also informed that the consignments for the construction of stands and kiosks at the Cooperage have arrived and they would be put in place once the WIFA obtains clearance from the BMC.
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