The Santosh Trophy National Championship has been relocated to Punjab from Delhi owing to a dispute between the All India Football Federation and Delhi Soccer Association over the tournament’s venue.
While the AIFF wanted to host the matches at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the DSA was keen on organising the tournament at the Ambedkar Stadium.
Even as the DSA assured the AIFF that the facilities at the Ambedkar Stadium would be upgraded, the apex body wanted it in writing from the concerned authority, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).
“They wanted to do the tournament at JLN but hosting it there, instead of Ambedkar, defeats the whole purpose. People hardly go to the Nehru stadium and it is expensive, too.
“Moreover, I had personally given them assurances that everything will be sorted and they (MCD) were on board also but they are not obliged to give us in writing at such short notice. The AIFF was still not convinced,” said DSA president Shaji Prabhakaran.
The Ambedkar has hosted top tournaments such as the Nehru Cup and final of the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup and is currently holding second division I-League matches.
“We have hosted so many big tournaments. The last time we hosted the Santosh Trophy, in 2004, it was a big hit and was one of the best organised events,” DSA spokesperson N K Bhatia said.
“We kept waiting for AIFF’s venue observer and when he eventually came, he seemed to be in a hurry and left without proper inspection of the stadium. If they had made up their mind to give the tournament to Punjab, then why make us go through all this,” Bhatia added.