India is set to host the FIFA u17 Womens’ World Cup during Ferbruary to March next year. While its set to start off football festivities in the country after the 2017 Men’s u17 World Cup, it will be right in the middle of the club football season, something which has put Kolkata clubs ATKMB and East Bengal in a dilemma.
Both clubs use the Salt Lake Stadium for league home games. However the stadium is set to be beyond the reach of both clubs as its likely to be handed over to FIFA a few months before the start of the world cup. In 2016, ATK faced a similar situation and played home games in the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium after undertaking renovation works at the venue. That however isnt an option this time as a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order has ruled that no night games can be hosted at the venue, which is located in an ecologically sensitive zone within the city of Kolkata.
That leaves the club with options such as the Kishore Bharati Stadium in South Kolkata and the Mohun Bagan Ground. The former has been undergoing massive renovation works for sometime now. However, progress there has been stalled due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic and it will be difficult to get it ready before the season. The Mohun Bagan ground, on the other hand lacks basic player amenities and has weak floodlights, that do not support HD broadcast. According to reports, ATK has been willing to carry out renovations at the ground. However, its a lengthy process as the ground is on land, leased out by the Indian Army and any construction work requires prior permission from them, which is an extremely lengthy process.
East Bengal, on the other hand have 2 options on hand. They can play I League home matches from the East Bengal Ground. The club was interested in doing so last season itself, however it had to shelve those plans due to the unwillingness of their head coach Alejandro Garcia. They can also go back to playing in the Kalyani Stadium, which hosted most of their matches last season.
It will be interesting to see which venues the 2 Kolkata clubs choose as home.