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IFA lease move for Salt Lake Stadium

Calcutta: The Indian Football Association (IFA) is exploring the possibility of acquiring Salt Lake Stadium on lease. According to a senior IFA official, the association will approach the state government in this regard “soon”.

The move came hours after the state government’s intention to lease out a few stadiums for the betterment of football.

The IFA official refused to go into details of what it intends to do.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said during the state sports department’s felicitation of ASEAN Club Championship winners East Bengal at Salt Lake Stadium in the evening that his government intends to lease out a few stadiums, including Salt Lake Stadium and Rabindra Sarobar Stadium.

“We may consider leasing out a few stadiums,” Bhattacharjee said, while replying to a common grievance against poor ground conditions at Salt Lake Stadium.

When asked whether his government is ready to lease out Salt Lake Stadium to IFA, he said, “let them approach us, I’ll see to it.”

The ground at the stadium hogged the limelight for all the wrong reasons during the recently held Federation Cup, when it was almost reduced to a pool of mud, owing to rains and non-stop football during the tournament. The calamity reduced the credibility of the city as Mecca of football and even the AIFF was displeased.

East Bengal even threatened to pull out, citing poor ground conditions.

During the felicitation, East Bengal coach Subhas Bhowmick brought the matter to Bhattacharjee’s notice.

The CM said his government “will take necessary steps” to improve conditions of the ground. “I will hold a meeting with sports minister and secretary and a technical committee will be formed soon in this regard,” the chief minister added.

He also said his government is keen to provide infrastructural facilities, including land, if a football academy is conceptualised.

“My government is ready to offer land for such academy, but a proper management must be there behind the project. If former players and IFA approach me, I’m ready to help.”

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