GETTING A TEAM IN THE I-LEAGUE IS NOT AN EASY TASK was a lesson learnt the hard way by Chennai City FC officials. Although the on-field display by the team was entertaining for the crowds, the fans did not have a clue of what was happening off the field.
Chennai City got confirmation about the induction in the I-League only about 4 weeks before their first game. They ran from pillar to post to get things done but even after getting all formalities done the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium gave their only team in the I-League a tough time. Talking to New Indina Express, CCFC owner Rohit Ramesh said,
“I was relieved that we were able to host the game. With 24 hours left, there were doubts about that."
The stadium was only secured a day before the game. The Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu demanded a sum of more than 3 lakh for the stadium and the adjoining training pitch.
What we saw of the pitch was a poor quality surface with lot of brown patches leading to possible injuries. The JNU staff did not extend co-operation even after the fees were paid by not providing the said support. One of the club's official, who wished to remain anonymous, said,
“Rooms (including the media room) didn’t have necessary furniture. The dugouts used during CFA league games weren’t there, and we were told we had to pay to put them back up. On matchday, they came and told us that for every chair damaged by spectators, we would have to pay `1000 each. They were supposed to organise No Objection Certificates from various departments for the stadium, but told us of their inability at the last moment. We had to run around for it. And where an ISL game sees around 100 policemen, just ten were made available to us.”
Reports also said the All India Football Federation took issue with club officials over condition of the JN Stadium pitch, which looked like a lush green pitch during ISL matches.
SDAT officials who handle the premises did not comment on the topic. Chennai City might even consider moving to a different ground if the value of the money paid is not seen in the services rendered.