Free Press Journal

East Bengal to play three home matches in empty stadium


Kolkata: Local football giants East Bengal on Monday decided to play two of their I-League home matches and an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup encounter without the support of fans inside the Salt Lake stadium due to the unavailability of required police personnel.

In an administrative meeting here, the club decided to stage the matches in an empty stadium without their vociferous supporters after Bidhannagar city police – under whose jurisdiction the venue comes – said they cannot deploy the required number of police personnel for crowd control, as they would be on municipal election duty.

The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) polls are slated for April 18, and elections to 92 municipalities across the state on April 25.

East Bengal will host Mumbai FC on the 18th and Goan club Dempo on the 25th in important I-League encounters.

East Bengal will play Malaysian side Johor Darul Tazim on the 28th in the return-leg of the fixture having lost the first 1-4 away at Malaysia.

Not staging the AFC event can lead to two year suspension and a hefty fine which the East Bengal officials are unwilling to bear.

“We won’t get required police protection needed for the matches. They will be on election duty and so the matches will be played without the supporters in the stands,” Santiranjan Das Gupta, East Bengal assistant general secretary, told IANS on Monday.

Asked if mediapersons and members will be allowed, he said: “Media persons will be allowed if they have the accreditation cards, we have not decided yet about the members.”

When asked whether the police would give permission to the club to hold the three matches sans spectators, Bidhan Nagar City Police additional deputy commissioner Debasish Dar said it could be considered.

“It can be considered. Discussions are now on,” Dhar told IANS.