Launch of India's new Premier League Soccer delayed
Wednesday 22 February 2012
The inaugural edition of India's Premier League Soccer (PLS), featuring World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro and former France international Robert Pires, has been postponed because of a lack of venues, organisers told Reuters today.
The six-team competition, modelled on the successful Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket tournament, was slated for a March 24 start in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal but the organisers said they could not secure the stadiums owned by the state government.
"Discussion is on with the state government but even if it is sorted out by the end of this week, we would need time to prepare the fields," Dharamdutt Pandey, CEO of the event management company which conceived PLS, said by telephone.
Secretary of All India Football Federation's (AIFF) West Bengal unit was in touch with the state sports minister and the issue would be resolved soon, Pandey claimed.
"These are minor issues and PLS is very much on. We are now targetting a mid-April start for the league.
"It would require at least one month to upgrade the stadiums to an international standard. So we are now looking at mid-April," Pandey added.
PLS is the second such league which set out to replicate IPL's success before teething problems led to postponements.
Earlier this month, promoters of an IPL-style nine-team motor racing league deferred the 12-race competition to next year because of logistic issues.
In an otherwise cricket-crazy India, soccer is popular in pockets but nowhere more so than in West Bengal.
Nearly 120,000 fans gave a rousing reception to Oliver Kahn in the German goalkeeper's 2008 Bayern Munich swansong in Kolkata and Argentina great Diego Maradona almost brought the city to a standstill during his visit in the same year.
The January 30 auction of PLS players - mostly in the twilight of their careers - and coaches further whetted that appetite.
Franchises spent nearly $7 million in the auction where Argentine Hernan Crespo proved the league's hottest property, fetching $840,000.
Italy's 2006 World Cup-winning captain Cannavaro ($830,000), Pires ($800,000), Nigerian Jay-Jay Okocha ($550,000) and Liverpool great Robbie Fowler ($530,000) were also auctioned as "icon' players among franchises based in different cities in West Bengal.
Among the coaches, former Manchester City and Sunderland manager Peter Reid and Marco Etcheverry, arguably the greatest Bolivian player, went for $200,000 each.
Latest in Sport
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 4 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
- 5 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin