The I-League second division clash between Lonestar Kashmir FC and Ahmedabad Racquet Academy FC has been postponed.
The teams were scheduled to face each other on Sunday, February 24 before the organising committee decided to call the match off on account of security agencies not providing clearance for the game.
On February 18, defending I-League champions Minerva Punjab had refused to travel to Srinagar, citing security concerns. On that occasion, local police, the security agencies and the match commissioner Michael Andrews had given the green light for Minerva’s I-League game against Real Kashmir FC to go ahead.
“The teams were in Srinagar. They were at the hotel itself when the message was communicated to them. They didn’t step out. The security situation became slightly problematic in the morning,” said I-League’s Chief Executive Officer, Sunando Dhar to the Times of India.
ARA had earlier defeated Hindustan FC 2-0 at the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi. Only one team from this group will qualify for the final round of the second division, and with last season’s topper Hindustan struggling with five defeats in as many matches, it is expected that either of ARA or Lonestar Kashmir are contenders for the next round.
“We are chasing qualification. We are heading to Srinagar after this match because we want the three points. We have received the approval needed to travel,” an official from second division-debutants ARA had stated after their game against Hindustan.
Minerva had earlier moved Delhi High Court for relief after refusing to travel for their match against Real Kashmir in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack. In the past, Fransa Pax’s refusal to play against Air India in the National Football League had seen the latter being awarded the three points.
With the League committee convening at Dwarka House on Monday, it remains to be seen if the precedent is upheld.
Quess East Bengal had also raised their concerns regarding their I-League match in Srinagar on February 28 with Football Delhi offering to host the match instead. The Kolkata giants, chasing a first league title in 15 years, had said that they will play in Srinagar if ‘forced to’. The League committee is expected to take a decision on the match between QEB and RKFC as well.
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