Kolkata's famous Salt Lake Stadium could likely miss out on hosting the Indian Super League (ISL) franchise Atletico de Kolkata's home matches this season.
The stadium has been selected as one of the main venues for the Under-17 World cup, scheduled to be held in 2017, and with renovations pushing on in full swing at several key facets of the arena, it has been declared out of bounds for any competitive matches in the near future.
ISL authorities were said to have met West Bengal's Sports Minister Aroop Biswas on the same issue, who clarified to the officials the unavailability of the ground.
"The representatives from fifa will visit the stadium in October. It's impossible to let them use the stadium before it. I understand the attraction of ISL is huge among football lovers but we must also understand this venue is a matter of pride for us and we must prioritise the Under-17 World Cup at the moment," he clarified on the issue.
The stadium is undergoing a heavy revamp with the pitch still in the process of being re-laid, while refurbishment of seats in the top tiers is still underway. The total renovation costs are expected to cost close to INR 60 crore.
Hosting of any match at the stadium will lead to a delay in the requisite development, something that government officials want to avoid, before FIFA's inspection panel visit India to conduct their review on the proceedings.
In this regard, the delegates carried out an inspection of the Mohun Bagan ground in Kolkata itself, which they have deemed as an able alternate to the Salt Lake stadium, to host all of the Sourav Ganguly co-owned franchise’s matches. The Barasat ground was also under consideration, however, the authorities were said to have turned down the stadium owning to its lack of infrastructure.
"It's not that Mohun Bagan ground is suitable for hosting ISL matches. A lot of work needs to be done, but its prime location will certainly help in attracting the spectators," revealed a source close to the matter, to The Telegraph.
The bane of shifting venues is certainly the raising of another stadium to the correct standards and this is what the chiefs in charge of stadium inspection on behalf of the ISL found at the Mariners' ground. It is believed they complained about the players’ dressing room, referees room, medical room - which were far short of the necessary levels.
"Such issues have to be addressed and work must begin soon. Most of the facilities have to be makeshift arrangements as construction on the Maidan cannot be done without the army's permission. The players' tunnel also has to be renovated and we've to decide on the area where the seating arrangements for the VIPs will be made," expounded the informant.