Bengaluru FC, the current Indian Super League (ISL) champions have enlisted the Balewadi Stadium in Pune as its home venue in the 2019-20 season in the Indian Super League (ISL) and AFC Champions League.
This is due to an ongoing court case regarding the use of the Kanteerava Stadium, which is shared by athletes of the Karnataka Athletics Association for practice and events. Football fans have been thronging to watch Bengaluru FC games in the stadium for the last five years now, with the attendance crossing 20,000 on some occasions. The 2018 ISL final was played at the Kanteerava stadium in which Bengaluru was beaten 3-2 by Chennaiyin FC.
The club management was forced to shift from their current home at the heart of Bengaluru, with just a month to go for the start of the 2019-20 season, according to the conditions laid down by the AIFF club licensing.
"We have been forced to make this decision but we hope that all stakeholders can find an amicable solution to the issue and that we can play our home matches in Bengaluru,” a club official said.
This announcement comes even as the club is trying to stay in Bengaluru and is exploring all possibilities to continue in the city.
In a series of tweets, the club announced, “However, the club is working closely with all stakeholders involved to find an amicable solution, and ensure that Bengaluru FC plays its home games out of the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.”
It added, “The city has been our Fortress, its people our strength and its glory, our endeavour. We hope to keep all of them intact.”
Even Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya assured help and announced that he will take up this matter with the Chief Minister.
He tweeted, “Our city's football club play 'home' matches elsewhere? This shouldn't be happening. As a @bengalurufc & @chetrisunil11 fan myself, I was looking forward to watching our #HeroISL champs at Kanteerava. I shall request Hon CM @BSYBJP, who holds the sports portfolio, to intervene.”
Our city's football club play 'home' matches elsewhere? This shouldn't be happening— Tejasvi Surya (@Tejasvi_Surya) September 18, 2019
As a @bengalurufc & @chetrisunil11 fan myself, I was looking forward to watching our #HeroISL champs at Kanteerava
I shall request Hon CM @BSYBJP, who holds the sports portfolio, to intervene https://t.co/hYWJn794aH
The fans are naturally heartbroken with the development.
“Bengaluru FC has given me several moments to cherish over the years, and I'm sure there will be many more of those too. It feels a little heartbreaking to think that these moments may not happen in our city anymore. I'll definitely miss watching my team play. Here's hoping that a solution is found and I get to cheer my team at a place we call home,” Habil Ahmed, a fan of the club, told TNM.
The fortress is more than just a stadium to be because its where I saw my first ever @bengalurufc game and also a reason why I am the artist I am today. My family is a football loving family and we’re closer now because of this. I have faith in the club :) pic.twitter.com/aXwgjVFMVR— Varsha Raj (@Varshi_14) September 18, 2019
Since 2013, @bengalurufc has kept the Indian and Karnataka flags flying high, on the pitch and off it. The ‘Bengaluru’ in Bengaluru FC is not merely a moniker, it’s an identity. The gandaberunda in its crest is an embrace of the very core of Karunadu.— West Block Blues (@WestBlockBlues) September 18, 2019
Renowned athletes like Ashwini Nachappa, GG Prameela, and others had gone to the High Court claiming that the stadium was originally built for athletics ahead of the 1997 National Games and BFC was allowed to continue using the stadium without any competitive bidding.
Subsequently, the HC had ordered the state government to conduct a probe into the manner in which the Sree Kanteerava stadium was allowed to be used by JSW Bengaluru Football Club for the past three years.