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Uncertainty over ISL venue

Guwahati, April 1: At a time when Bollywood actor John Abraham and soccer star Bhaichung Bhutia, along with Shillong Lajong FC, have expressed interest in owning the Guwahati franchisee of the proposed IMG Reliance Indian Super League football tournament, the fate of the tournament in Guwahati has been rendered uncertain, thanks to the state finance department’s delay in acting on a proposal to upgrade the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium.

Sources said the finance department has returned the sports department’s Rs 12.5-crore proposal for the modernisation of the stadium yesterday with a note that a fresh proposal should be placed for the new fiscal.

The proposal was put up in December last year.

“Placing a fresh proposal and getting funds granted for the work, which was promised by chief minister Tarun Gogoi to IMG Reliance in the memorandum of understanding, would now be possible only after May 16 when the election code of conduct will be lifted. There will be hardly any time left to prepare the turf, which takes not less than five months. Therefore, we can assume the fate of Guwahati as a venue has become bleak,” AFA secretary Ankur Dutta said today.

The league is scheduled to start in September.

“It is unfortunate that this is the same government which had spent crores of rupees in hosting car rallies, holding tourism fairs and other activities which have hardly yielded in all these years, but has adopted a stepmotherly attitude towards sports, which is vital in human resource development,” Dutta lamented.

Football: The Assam Football Association (AFA) is hosting the 20th Senior Women's National Football Championship at Dibrugarh and Golaghat in Upper Assam from April 27 to May 11. Altogether 20 states, including Railways, who have been given direct entry for the first time, will feature in the tournament.


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