Defending Indian Super League champions Bengaluru FC could be forced to move their base to either Ahmedabad or Pune for the upcoming domestic and continental campaigns if they are not allowed to use the Sree Kanteerava stadium in Bengaluru.
The Sree Kanteerava stadium has been the home ground for JSW-owned outfit since 2015. However, in 2017 a number of athletes who train at the venue alleged that Bengaluru’s presence at the stadium and their allied footballing activities hampers their training. Since then Karnataka High Court has ordered an inquiry into the process through which Bengaluru were allowed to use the stadium. The deadline for it falls on October 14.
Bengaluru FC are hopeful of a favorable resolution that would help them stay at the Kanteerava, but deadlines to register a venue for their upcoming competitions could force their hand to move to an alternate venue.
“We will have to look at alternatives and a couple of them that are being mentioned are Pune and Ahmedabad,” Bengaluru FC CEO Mandar Tamhane told Scroll.in
“However, we cannot make any decisions until we know what is happening [with the Kanteerava stadium]. We want to stay here and we are hopeful. We are waiting for the official confirmation on the issue as we cannot do much till we hear anything,” he added.
Bengaluru have limited alternatives if they have to shift base due to their AFC commitments and subsequent club licensing criteria that have to be abided by.
“We have to play in the AFC Cup. So keeping that in mind, the only two alternatives that are possible are Pune and Ahmedabad as those are the only two stadiums that fulfill that criteria. Odisha was one but since Delhi are moving there, that is no longer an option,” Tamhane said.
The deadline to register a home stadium with AFC is September 15, but the club can still issue a stadium change by January. However, with the ISL season starting in October, BFC have about a week’s time to register a stadium and prepare the pitch.
Tamhane expects the club to be in a position to make a decision September 21, which is a month before their first home game. “We should have it sorted by then. Even if we need to move, we need the confirmation to do so as we can’t do anything before we know what is happening,” he said.
It will be a big blow for Bengaluru if they have to move out of their base considering the connect the players and fans at the famous stadium. Apart from logistical and financial burdens, Bengaluru would also suffer on the footballing front if they are forced to play away from the Kanteerava, a stadium they call their fortress.