I-League: Logistical nightmares plague Chennai City ahead of bow

"The Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu had given us an ultimatum: pay Rs. 4 lakh for stadium rent by 3 p.m. or risk losing the venue for the game," said a source.

Chennai City is unhappy with the rent being charged for using the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium.   -  R. Ragu

As Chennai City FC prepares to make its debut in the I-League, logistical nightmares almost put brakes on the historic occasion. Teething problems regarding transfer signings, stadium clearance and on-ground facilities have plagued team.

An insider with the team explains to Sportstar the gravity of the situation. “The venue for tomorrow’s game was confirmed only on Saturday afternoon. The Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu had given us an ultimatum: pay Rs. 4 lakh for stadium rent by 3 p.m. or risk losing the venue for the game.

“As it was past closing hours of the bank, we found it extremely difficult to cough up the money. Finally, by the skin of our teeth, we paid the money. Despite writing to the relevant authorities on December 22 about the stadium requirement, we had to haggle and negotiate the deal 24 hours before the match. This is unacceptable.”

However, that isn’t the end of the problems. Apart from the short notice from SDAT, Chennai City is unhappy with the rent being charged. “The Kolkata clubs East Bengal and Mohun Bagan get charged only Rs. 25,000 for their I-League games, why are we getting extorted,” laments the source.

The logic from the SDAT is that it had charged the same rent to Chennaiyin FC for the ISL season. “This is not feasible for a new team such as us. We are seriously considering shifting base to another city for our next home game. We don’t have the marketing power or sponsorship levels of Chennaiyin FC. Also, the facilities provided aren’t worth the exorbitant amount.”

The source adds that the grass has not been cut as the machine isn’t available. He also goes on to add that the Tamil Nadu Football Association (TFA) hasn’t provided the club with nets for the goal. In fact, it didn’t know where the goal posts were and only after the club officials swept the ground for the posts did it find them.

“This is very poor from the TFA. We are also having documentation problems with our signings, especially the Indian players. We shouldn’t be worrying about such bureaucratic anomalies ahead of our historic debut,” he signs off.