EXCLUSIVE: ISL schedule set to be tweaked for Bengaluru's AFC commitments & Khelo India
Written by: Tushaar Sachdeva
After a change in I-League fixtures, ISL walks down the same road to accommodate Bengaluru FC's AFC commitments and Indian Government's Khelo India.
The Indian Super League have been forced to reschedule a few matches due to external factors affecting several clubs. A source close to developments revealed that Indian Super League officials are troubled by the rescheduling process for a few games in the limited resources they have.
Bengaluru FC is set to play their home AFC cup fixture on 30th January 2018 against Bhutan's Transport United which clashes with Bengaluru's ISL visit to Chennai, that was, until now, scheduled to take place on the 31st.
It is mandatory for every club to hand over their home grounds to AFC 48 hours prior to the game. Bengaluru has a home fixture on the Republic Day of India, i.e. 26th January next year and then they were set to make a trip to Chennai, which has to be rescheduled now. Post 31st January, they have to leave for Kolkata for a match on 3rd February against current champions ATK, and if assumptions are made, this game, too, could see a change in schedule.
To accommodate the AFC fixture on 30th January and to take care of the mandate timings and travel journeys, ISL will need to shift a minimum of 4 matches for the Blues. It can be safely suggested that these movements will see a change in the schedule for not only Albert Roca's men, but also for the teams that were stipulated to play them in the aforementioned period.
Delhi Dynamos, the team from the national capital, face a similar challenge of their own but due to a very different reason. Their home ground, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi, is a property of the Sports Authority of India and Dynamos lease the stadium from SAI to play their ISL games. SAI had already brought down a condition for the availability of the property for an event called 'Khelo India', an initiative from the Government of India for the overall growth of sports in India and yet again, Delhi's home fixture is in a mix due to the Government's pilot project.
'Khelo India' is set to be organised from 31st January to 8th February of 2018 and will coincide with 4th February's visit from Mumbai City FC's to the national capital. Unavailability of a similar stadium in New Delhi has left ISL with no option but to face another grim situation. In an alternate scenario, the home ground of Indian Arrows, the Ambedkar Stadium, can be used, but that looks like an unlikely option for the cash-rich league at the moment.
Tampering with the schedules is not as easy as it looks. Along with the teams, the schedule for the set of referees, broadcast teams and the medical teams is also set and prepared way before and all of this needs to be tweaked now. The Khel Now source also said that in India, it has never been easy to accommodate or adjust more than one fixture at a short notice and the ISL administrators, at the moment, must be scratching their heads.
Looking at the situation in hand, NorthEast United FC's fixture against the Karnataka club looks to be in soup as well, as the Sunil Chhetri-led side will travel for the first and away leg on the 23rd against Transport United. Covering all angles, Chennaiyin FC, ATK, NorthEast United FC and Kerala Blasters are the four teams that can see a change in their schedule, and their fans should be ready for the same. ISL is officially set to announce the change in fixtures in the next 24 to 48 hours.
Published: Thu Dec 21, 2017 06:49 PM IST