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Everyone is Keen to Play in Srinagar: I-League CEO Confident Real Kashmir Games Will be Safe

Despite the uncertainty surrounding security and crowd engagement in Srinagar, I-League CEO Sunando Dhar feels Real Kashmir FC matches will not see any problem.

Ritayan Basu | News18 Sports@ritayanbasu

Updated:November 21, 2019, 6:59 PM IST
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Everyone is Keen to Play in Srinagar: I-League CEO Confident Real Kashmir Games Will be Safe
File photo of Real Kashmir FC. (Photo Credit: @ILeagueOfficial)

New Delhi: I-League CEO Sunando Dhar was confident that Srinagar will be safe for Real Kashmir FC to host their home matches throughout the course of the five-month league.

A few days ago at the press conference to launch a special fan jersey, Real Kashmir FC co-owner Sandeep Chattoo had confirmed that they will host all their home matches in Srinagar despite the uncertainty surrounding the area after the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

Dhar opined that even though Srinagar was a sensitive area, it was "very safe".

"As for scheduling in Srinagar, last season the game against East Bengal was called off due to weather issues. And the last match (against Minerva Punjab FC) could not happen due to security concerns. It is a sensitive area but Srinagar is very safe. There is a lot of security around and one does not feel unsafe at all in Srinagar.

"The crowds that we got at the ground was absolutely fantastic. Great crowds and the way they behaved and supported the team was fantastic. I am sure we will have the same kind of atmosphere in Srinagar this year too," Dhar told News18.com.

Dhar also said that according to him security will not be a problem and the fans in Srinagar deserve to watch their team play live.

"If one is talking about Article 370, I don't think it will have any impact. In fact, we have full support from the team, from the state FA as well as the local administration there. Everyone is keen to play in Srinagar because giving the fans a chance to watch matches is the key thing and the way the fans lapped it up last year, it is unfortunate if matches are not held in Srinagar," he added.

After a couple of years of Star Sports broadcasting the I-League, this year DSport has taken over and has got a three-year broadcast deal. When Star Sports was broadcasting the matches, all the matches saw an afternoon kick-off with the Indian Super League (ISL), where Star has a stake, getting the prime time slot.

With DSport broadcasting the league this year, the 5PM and 7PM kick-offs are back even though all the matches in Ludhiana (Punjab FC) and Srinagar have the 2PM slot only.

Dhar said the "couple of stadiums where there are no floodlights," there was "no option but to start at 2PM."

"One of the venues where there will be 2PM starts is in Kashmir, like it was last year. All the matches were houseful there. Another place where it will be a 2PM start will be Ludhiana, as the floodlights there are not good enough.

"With some clubs having evening matches with a 7PM kick-off on DSports, gives us more flexibility there and teams especially from the south, Gokulam and Chennai City, wanted 7 o'clock starts and all their matches are from 7PM.

"Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and the Northeastern clubs asked for 5 o'clock starts, which has been given," Dhar explained.

Aizawl FC, NEROCA FC, TRAU FC and Churchill Brothers FC Goa have all been flexible and are hosting matches in all the three time slots.

"There are floodlights in Imphal and in Aizawl, so overall the infrastructure is also improving, which is good, I am sure that in the near future there will be floodlights at the venues which don't have yet. Already I think the TRC ground in Kashmir have put up floodlights but it is not good enough and they are going to improve that. Ludhiana already have floodlights but they have to do some renovations."

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