IFA Shield organisers in a fix

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> The prestigious the IFA Shield football tournament does not seem to have a venue this year.

updated: February 15, 2008 16:59 IST
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The prestigious the IFA Shield football tournament does not seem to have a venue this year. The tournament organized by Indian Football Association (IFA), due to be held later this month, would have been played at Yuva Bharti Krirangran in Salt Lake Stadium, but the state government has said that the facility can only be made available for half the tournament because its undergoing renovation. Obviously that is not a complete solution and the tournament organisers are in a fix.

The tournament seems to be going the Rovers and DCM Cup way. It is scheduled to be held between February 25 and March 7, but has run into rough weather with the state government adamant over the use of the Yuva Bharti Krirangran.

And to make matters worse the IFA - arguably the oldest football association in the country - does not even have a ground of its own.

Though the government has relented by allowing the IFA to use the stadium for five days (Feb 25- 29), the authorities are in a fix over where to hold the rest of the matches. Seven teams, including two from overseas - Santos from South Africa and Dhaka Md Sporting - are taking part in the tournament.

As a result, the IFA stands to lose gate revenues for some of the heavyweight contests like the one between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal in the latter stages of the tournament.

This year it looks like the best moments of the tournament will be relegated to a venue on the outskirts of Kolkata

"If the hockey association is kind enough to use their ground and if I get the Salt Lake Stadium for 3-4 days, then not very crucial matches will be taken away except the East Bengal clash with Mohun Bagan either in the semis or in the final. That's one match, where we will lose the gate revenue," said IFA Secretary Utpal Ganguly.

Therefore, the long-term slolution is obviously to invest in a stadium for them, but with real estate prices soaring in Kolkata, this could take the IFA a while to sort out.