The I-League Kolkata derby between champions Mohun Bagan and East Bengal on Sunday is set to be played in front of an empty stadium after the city police issued a directive not to sale tickets for the match in view of COVID-19 pandemic.
The Joint Commissioner of Police, Bidhan Nagar wrote a letter to East Bengal Ground Secretary Dipankar Chakraborty not to sell tickets for the match to be played at the Salt Lake Stadium.
“This is to inform you that in view of the coronavirus pandemic, you are requested to ensure that no public gathering takes place in the I-League home matches for the East Bengal vs Mohun Bagan on 15th March 2020,” the letter said.
“You are therefore requested to ensure that no sale of tickets is there for the match,” it said.
East Bengal is the home team for the second leg Kolkata derby of this season. Mohun Bagan had won the first leg 2-1 at the same Salt Lake Stadium on January 19.
The AIFF also indicated that all the remaining 28 matches of the I-League, including Sunday’s marquee Kolkata derby, could be played in empty stadiums owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The AIFF, however, said it will hold a meeting with the I-League clubs on Friday before announcing a final decision.
“We don’t want to take a unilateral decision, we want to hear the clubs. So, we have fixed a meeting on Friday with them. But the most likely option is that the remaining 28 matches are played behind closed doors,” an AIFF official told PTI.
The development came after the Sports Ministry’s advisory to all national federations to follow the Health Ministry’s advisory and avoid large gatherings in sports events.
“…ensure that no public gathering takes place in any sporting event. In the event the sporting event cannot be avoided, the same could be done wihout allowing gathering of people, including spectators,” read an order from the Sports ministry.
Mohun Bagan have already clinched the I-League title on Tuesday with four rounds still to be played but the official said the remaining matches cannot be cancelled.
“There will be relegation and promotion and other things. These cannot be decided without playing the full league. So, we have to hold all the remaining matches,” he said.
The final match of the Indian Super League, which will be the top-tier domestic competition from the next season, to be held on March 14 in Goa, will also be played in an empty stadium, the organisers said on Thursday.