ISL spent more than Rs 3 crore for upkeep of grounds in Goa

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New Delhi, Mar 11 (PTI) Organisers of the Indian Super League have spent more than Rs 3 crore to keep the grounds in order throughout the 2020-21 season of the country's biggest football event.

The final of the seventh season of the league will be played on Sunday between ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City FC in Margao, Goa.

This season's league is being played across three venues in Goa owing to the COVOD-19 pandemic.

'The league spared no expense in ensuring that the grounds remained in top condition throughout the tournament - more than Rs 3 crores were spent on the pitches before and during the season,' the ISL said in a release on Thursday.

'The effort to keep these pitches up to mark saw 70 groundsmen work around the clock,' it added.

According to FSDL (Football Sports Development Limited), organisers of the event, the main challenge in hosting a huge number of games across three stadiums in such a short period of time was 'maintaining the quality of the playing surfaces.' 'Both the main grounds and the nine practice pitches were made ready in record time.' Work on the three main grounds started on September 10 and, despite a significant number of days being lost due to heavy rains, was completed on time before the first match kicked off.

'The nine practice pitches were prepared in an even shorter time,' it said in the release.

While work began on September 1, the pitches were made available to teams on October 10 so that they could begin their pre-seasons.

'The challenges that the league faced in readying these pitches were not small -- the grounds all had knee-length grass due to months of not being cut while the practice pitches had to be identified from scratch.

Despite the relatively brief periods of work that went into their preparations, the pitches held up extremely well throughout the season.

'An even bigger challenge was ensuring the safety of the army of groundsmen throughout the tournament. Just like the players and other team staff, the groundsmen too went into a safety bubble where they were constantly tested for COVID-19.' After ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City FC play out the final, all grounds and practice pitches will be handed back to local officials.

Amid the pandemic, the ISL was the first big sporting event in India to return to stadiums, albeit without fans. PTI AH AH KHS KHS