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ISL: Atletico de Kolkata’s home matches likely to be moved out of city

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The football crazy fans out there in Kolkata may be in for rude shock, thanks to lack of infrastructure for sports in the country as a whole. In a turn of events, the Atletico de Kolkata’s home matches of the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Yuva Bharatai Krirangan, with a capacity of over 80,000 spectators, are under serious threats this time.

The West Bengal sports minister Aroop Biswas admitted that doubts regarding the Salt Lake Stadium remains because of the World U-17 championship to be held in India next year. The third edition of the eight-franchise ISL is expected to take place between September and November 2016 while the FIFA U-17 World Cup is slated for same time next year.

“The FIFA deadline (to complete renovation of the stadium) is October but we are targeting to end it by September. Since the ISL is starting in October, it depends on whether the FIFA guidelines allow the stadium to be used for any other tournament prior to the under-17 World Cup. “In case it is not permitted then the ISL matches have to shifted,” The minister in charge of sports was quoted as saying by the Kolkata media.

Under the current circumstances, the Kolkata franchise Atletico de Kolkata will have to be prepared with another venue to stage their home matches. The football stadium in north Bengal’s Siliguri is an option, but it’s still not clear whether Atletico de Kolkata officials will be interested in playing their home matches there.

The cash-rich league that started in 2013 has started gathering momentum in the last two years. World Cuppers turning out for local franchise was a new thing in Indian football which was embraced by the football fans here with both hands.

It may be recalled that Atletico de Kolkata won the inaugural edition of the league while last time the trophy went to Chennaiyin FC. The dates and fixtures of the third Hero ISL is yet to be declared.