Bengaluru, March 8: The Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), the organisers of the Indian Super League, on Thursday (March 8) confirmed that the final of the ISL tournament will be held in Bengaluru on Saturday, March 17 instead of Kolkata. The decision comes in the wake of defending champions ATK, based out of Kolkata, not qualifying for the semifinals. Bengaluru FC, FC Goa, FC Pune City and Chennaiyin FC are the four teams in fray. Kochi was in contention to host the final but organisers preferred one of the four qualifying franchises.
Moreover, the fan support for all teams at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium has been impressive. Stadium attendance too averages around 21,000, courtesy the good efforts of the West Block Blues, Bengaluru FC's fan army.
The Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata, meanwhile, has recorded only an average of 12,669, which is one-fifth of the stadium's capacity. The Salt Lake Stadium hosted the final of the 2017 Under-17 World Cup and housed 66,600 fans.
According to talksports24x7.com, "The shift in the ISL final is as motivated by financial reasons as it is by the crowd. For hosting one ISL match at the VYBK (Salt Lake Stadium), the hosts have to shell approximately Rs 30 lakh, mainly due to a Rs 12 lakh ground fee that needs to be paid to the West Bengal state government. For the same stadium and facilities, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal were charged Rs 18,000 per game."
ISL confirmed the venue change with a brief statement. "FSDL today announced shift of venue for Hero Indian Super League 2017/18 final from Kolkata to Bengaluru," a statement from the ISL read. "The grand finale will be played at Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday, March 17, 2018 at 8 pm onwards."
The Sree Kanteerava Stadium has hosted two home matches of the 2019 Asian Cup qualifying round last year. It also hosted three 2018 World Cup qualifying matches in 2015.
Besides, it's a favourite venue for the national team, whose captain Sunil Chhetri leads Bengaluru FC, if they make the final at all.
BFC drew their first leg of the semifinal 0-0 with FC Pune City at the Balewadi Stadium. They play the second leg on Sunday, March 11, and will look to play the final at their home ground on March 17.