By Ritabrata Banerjee
Kolkata giants East Bengal may have to forcefully concede a walk-over in their very first match of I-League 2017. The Red and Golds are scheduled to play their opening fixture against defending champions Aizawl FC on November 28 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan.
East Bengal's clash against Aizawl is just two days after Indian Super League (ISL) side ATK play their first home match of the season against FC Pune City. Unfortunately, according to the rules set by the West Bengal government, the owners of the Salt Lake stadium, matches can only be held in the stadium in a three-day interval.
The club's official news bulletin, East Bengal Samachar, suggests that keeping the government regulation in mind, the club had requested the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to postpone their first match by a day or change the venue of the match to Barasat Stadium, which has been East Bengal's home venue in the past few seasons.
Unfortunately, AIFF has informed the club that after discussing the issue with broadcasters, Star Networks, it is not possible for the Indian FA to change either the venue or the date. They also mentioned that if East Bengal fail to organise the match at Salt Lake stadium, their three points will be deducted and awarded to Aizawl.
The Red and Golds have forwarded AIFF’s decision to the state government and will now hope that the government softens their stand and allow the club to utilise the stadium for their opening home match.