The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Soccer shade on Big B bash
- Shift-venue suit over Bachchan show on EB-Bagan match eve

Big B through the night; MB versus EB the afternoon after.

A writ petition challenging the validity of the permission granted to host the Amitabh Bachchan Nite at Salt Lake stadium on November 1, on the eve of the Mohun Bagan-East Bengal showdown, has been moved before the vacation bench of Calcutta High Court.

Petitioner Anjan Nag, general secretary of Maidan Sports Association, on Monday sought a court order to the stadium authorities to cancel the Big B big bash for the sake of the soccer summit clash.

The petitioner argued that the proposed Bengal Film Journalists’ Association (BFJA) function would affect the Calcutta Football League Super Division play-off final between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, scheduled for a 3 pm kick-off on November 2.

Justice P.N. Sinha, the vacation judge, while admitting the petition, asked Nag to move the matter before a regular bench after the courts reopen on October 28. “As the function is scheduled for November 2, the petitioner will have enough time to move the matter before the court in a regular bench,” he said.

Appearing for the petitioner, advocate Idris Ali said the organisers were erecting a stage “in the middle of the ground” for “a nightlong programme”.

“Amitabh Bachchan remains the biggest draw in Bengal and it is obvious that lakhs of people will gather at the stadium to see him on stage. It is as obvious that that the ground will be damaged due to the function, making a fair game of football impossible the very next day,” Ali added.

The petitioner claimed it had earlier been decided that Salt Lake stadium would be used only for big football matches and national athletic meets. “But the authorities are letting out the stadium for everything, including marriages,” he alleged.

Nag went on to state in his petition that sports should be given top priority by the stadium management, which should take the lead in persuading the BFJA to shift the venue of its November 1 programme. “Netaji Indoor Stadium should be used to host such a programme,” he suggested.

The stadium management, Nag argued, should be prevented from allowing such shows inside the stadium as they cause a lot of damage to the soccer turf. “The permission given to the BFJA should be withdrawn immediately,” he concluded.

A BFJA spokesperson countered the petitioner’s claims and said the matter had been moved on the basis of “baseless ideas”. He insisted there was no possibility of any damage to the field. “We will make our stand clear before the court, if required,” he said.

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