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Stadium fails city again

Guwahati, Sept. 4: Guwahati, which had lost an India-Palestine friendly football match early this year for lack of maintenance and upkeep of the Sarusajai sports complex here, is again staring at a similar fate in case of the IMG Reliance’s proposed IPL-style football league.

Guwahati is one of the reserve cities as a franchisee venue along with Hyderabad but the organisers have found the infrastructure unsuitable. They have mentioned that a lot of work would have to be done in a short while to make the stadium fit for international stars like David Beckham and Michael Owen to play.

The turf, too, will have to undergo a complete makeover, including replacement of the top layer of soil and grass and the lights will have to be doubled.

IMG Reliance vice-president, event management and implementation Bikram Singh preferred to be tightlipped about his assessment after today’s inspection of the infrastructure. However, he said Bajaj Electricals Ltd, which had earlier installed a four-mast 1000-lux floodlights system at Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium in the complex, has stated that it would be “extremely difficult” to increase the power of lights unless two more masts were installed.

“We will need at least 1,800 to 2,000 lux lights arrangement for high definition television coverage of the matches. Besides, a lot of things like the dressing rooms need a facelift. The sports complex has necessary facilities but is very poorly maintained,” Singh said in a discussion with Assam Football Association secretary Ankur Dutta and Sports Authority of Assam vice-chairman Rana Goswami today. Apart from the lights, the electronic scoreboard in the stadium is also out of order for years.

Singh was accompanied by US-based curator Ajay Malhotra from Sports Turf and Golf Enterprises who found the ground too poorly maintained.

“It is apparent the party that prepared the ground for the National Games had used road rollers to level it, leading to too much compaction of the top layer. They used Bermuda number 1 variety of grass, which did not grow properly. Its roots go down six or seven inches. However, here it has not gone more than 2.5 inches,” he said.

According to a rough estimate, the expenses to be incurred in the facelift will not be less than Rs 20 crore which the state government, that hardly spends a penny in maintenance of the state of the art infrastructure, will have to bear.

The league, proposed to be held from January 18 to March 30 next year, will feature eight franchise outfits and has got the All India Football Federation’s nod.


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