New Delhi: English Premier League club Blackburn Rovers have postponed to October their planned trip to India, for a friendly against Pune FC, following last week's bomb blasts in Mumbai that claimed 20 lives.
The club, which was bought by Indian poultry major Venkys in November, was scheduled to play the match Friday in Pune, which is around 100 kms from Mumbai. The trip was put on hold after Scotland Yard issued a travel advisory to the English side to not travel to the sub-continent.
"Safety is always our top priority and after detailed discussions with our security and legal advisors we have been left with no option other than to postpone our visit. While everyone is obviously disappointed, we all accept the circumstances and the reasoning. We are now looking forward to the trip to India in a few weeks time," a statement from the club said.
The decision was taken after a meeting of the Blackburn Rovers board with the Pune-based owners in London on Tuesday morning. The board felt there should be more security reviews in the wake of the latest travel advisory issued by Scotland Yard.
"The board had a meeting with the owners and decided to have a security review in the light of the Mumbai bomb blast. The trip will now take place at the beginning of October," the statement added.
Rovers manager Steve Kean, however, denied that the trip was postponed because some of the players were not willing to travel.
"The players are looking for guidance and as long as everything was explained to them they were fine as a group. I think the owners would have been disappointed if it was totally finished but the fact it has been put back a couple of weeks softens the disappointment," Kean was qouted as saying in the British media.
They would have become the first Premier League team ever to play in India.
Nandan Piramal, Pune FC director, also expressed his disappointment at the cancellation of the trip.
"We are very disappointed with the news. We were looking forward to the opportunity to play Rovers. History will have to wait.
"Though all of us at Pune FC are disappointed, I don't feel it's a huge setback for India football. Indian football is arriving on the global stage and I feel many such opportunities will present themselves in the near future," he said.
First Published: Tuesday, July 19, 2011, 23:24