Indian Super League champions Atletico de Kolkata will face a problem after arriving in Kolkata today, following the completion of their preseason tour of Spain this summer.
The lavish Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata is their home venue for the upcoming edition of the ISL, but the stadium is unavailable for the team to train in, just prior to the start of the tournament. The Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan got a facelift, after the end of the last edition of the I-League, and the existing artificial turf made way for natural grass.
The huge stadium, which is getting a makeover prior to the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017, will not be available for the ISL champions for training, as the relaid natural grass has been reportedly damaged by matches played in the Calcutta Football League (CFL), which ended last week.
"Practice venue is a major worry for us at the moment, it would be really good to have a feel of Salt Lake Stadium before the actual match but we are not sure about getting that before leaving the city for our first match [in Chennai on October 3]," ATK CEO Subrata Talukdar told reporters in Kolkata on Wednesday.
The focus now shifts to either the Mohun Bagan ground in the Kolkata Maidan or the Barasat Stadium (Vidyasagar Kirangan) -- in the outskirts of the main city. The Barasat Stadium has an artificial turf.
Atletico de Kolkata are willing to discuss the possible road ahead for the same with Spanish head coach Antonio Habas, before zeroing-in on a solution. "The options are limited and once the head coach [Habas] comes with the team tomorrow [Thursday], we'll have to take a call," Talukdar said.
Meanwhile, Indian cricket legend Kapil Dev is also believed to be attending one of the home games of the Indian Super League champions this season. The 1983 cricket World Cup-winning captain is the brand ambassador of SRMB Srijan Ltd, which tied up with the franchisee side on Wednesday.
While Brazil legend Pele is confirmed to attend ATK's first home game of the season on 13 October against Kerala Blasters, former Liverpool star Fernando Torres, who plays for Atletic de Kolkata's parent club Atletico Madrid, is also rumoured to be attending the game.