BFC hopeful of staying in Kanteerava

Uncertainty looms over Sree Kanteerava Stadium as the venue for Bengaluru Football Club's matches in the forthcoming season with the Karnataka Athletics Association intensifying its efforts to keep the venue exclusively for its own activities.  

With BFC getting their pre-season underway on Friday, the concerns regarding their home ground remain unresolved. The defending Indian Super League champions are set to play the AFC Cup as well, adding to the predicament.

"Hopefully it gets sorted, it has not yet. Talks have been going on at various fronts. There are things that are happening. We are wishful," said Mandar Tamhane, Chief Executive Officer of BFC. 

With the hugely-popular BFC slated to kick-off their league campaign on October 21, the dates to finalise the venue are fast approaching.

"(Deadline) Depends on the league. For them (ISL organisers), it's more of a logistical issue," Tamhane said adding that the date to confirm venue would probably be sometime next week and more importantly, the time will be key for the club to prepare the pitch.

Not leaving anything to chance, however, BFC have put in place contingency plans in case the issue lingers on with the JAW-owned franchise choosing Ahmedabad and Pune as possible stand-by venues. 

The stadium has been a bone of contention for a few years now and the KAA is adamant that the stadium should only be used for athletics. The High Court, which agreed that the initial agreement between DYES and JSW was not according to the rules, has accepted DYES' undertaking for a transparent lease process.

Tamhane said that talks are still on with all concerned parties and is hopeful for a solution that benefits all. With the club's consistent success on the field resonating with the Blues' fans, the matchday numbers for the club have been one of the highest in the country. The club has also remained unbeaten at home for over a year.

And moving out of the city, in the same season where two other franchises have been uprooted to different parts of the country, would be less than ideal.

"Going out of Bangalore and playing is not good for us for sure. It will hamper us a lot, whether it's the fans or comfort zone etc. We are hopeful that things are sorted out," Tamhane opined.

Then, there is also the matter of the AFC Cup deadline.

"There is an AFC deadline which was on Aug 25 and has been extended to September 15," said Tamhane. "But having said that, if we don't get the desired things in Bengaluru, we can change it at a later stage also. So if you ask me the deadline for documents for licensing, Jan 15 is the updated deadline from AFC and AIFF because you're looking at both the national licence and the AFC licence."

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