FC Goa’s Indian Super League practice ground - Salvador do Mundo Village Panchayat Ground - was found vandalised on Sunday afternoon, wherein the turf was dug up and filled with concrete. In a Goan newspaper, it was published that the Sarpanch Antonio Fernandes told the villagers that the panchayat does not receive any rent or revenue from FC Goa for the use of the ground. The report further said that there were heated discussions regarding the same, where the villagers mentioned that they should revoke the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the club. The Sarpanch said that the locals had no accress to the ground for either cricket or football.
However, FC Goa co-owner Akshay Tandon came out and said that it was a lie and the club actually used one of the two grounds to coach U14 and U18 kids of local club Sporting Club of Porvorim. He added that Ground 1 has to be kept under strict regulations due to ISL’s bio-bubble requirements.
Now, FC Goa have released a statement condemning the “pre-medidated vandalism" of the ground that has “led to the damage of the drainage and watering facities - making the place unfit for the footballing activities that were being carried out."
“The club finds the Panchayat’s claims of looking to build infrastructure of Cricket via a concrete pitch misleading and no communication of the same was ever received by the club," the statement further read.
In the statement, FC Goa said that they have spent about Rs 1 crore on refurbishing the turf and have “remained committed to developing the infrastructure at it’s own cost, which is close to Rs 2 lakhs per month.
The club signed the MoU and entered into the three-year partnership with the Salvador do Mundo Panchayat in May 2020 “with the intent to further grow the Goan and Indian football ecosystem."
As part of the MoU, FC Goa has “trained and provided technical infrastruture" to the U14 and U18 teams of Sporting Club of Porvorim" and over the last two months, the club has also “organised grassroots festivals every Sunday for boys and girls of the region in the U-10 and U-12 categories.
“During this period of time, to extend further support to the community, FC Goa has been helping financially in the maintenance of the venue which entails other sporting facilities and activities for the locals," the club’s statement added.
News18.com has learnt that according to the MoU, FC Goa were not supposed to pay any rent for the first three years because they were spending a large sum of money on the renovation of the ground. After three years though, the Panchayat could negotiate with the club about their charges and if the club does not reach the agreement, it will have to vacate the ground.
“FC Goa would like to clarify that it believes that the locals have been misled in regards to the terms and conditions of the partnership with false accusations brandished and recently published in media outlets," the statement stated.
FC Goa will now have to move to other training facilities that they have developed but they will be 25-30 minutes farther than the distance they had to cover for the Salvador ground.
FC Goa said that the acts of vandalism is in breach of the MoU signed and it “refuses to be intimidated by these acts and will endeavour to explore all legal options available to mitigate the matter at the earliest."
“The Club at this time would request the Government of Goa to intervene at the earliest in regards to the matter," the statement concluded.