PLS set to move out of Bengal; Kerala, Maha express interest

New Delhi: The much-anticipated Premier League Soccer (PLS) is likely to move out of West Bengal thanks to the state sports department`s non-cooperative attitude and offers have come from Kerala and Maharashtra to host the football tournament.

It was learnt that the Bengal sports department has indicated that the venues may not be free to host matches if the tournament is held next month, with some sources even claiming that it has asked PLS organisers to shell out money before going ahead with the event.

"We have received offers from these two states and are evaluating them at the moment. They are under consideration, and we are in discussions with them, but it hasn`t been finalised yet," said Celebrity Management Group CEO, Dharamdutt Pandey.

The initiative, which borrows heavily from America`s Major League Soccer (MLS) and cricket`s Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament, is the brainchild of CMG, a Kolkata-based sports management firm, and Indian Football Association (IFA), football`s apex body in Bengal.

"They are saying that the venues would not be free and it was also learnt there are some who are looking at this as an opportunity to earn some money. CMG is ready to hold an auction all over again if it moves out to another state," a source said.

Asked about the lack of venues across the state, Pandey said, "That is IFA`s responsibility. They are in talks with the government, and we were not supposed to arrange the venues."

The tournament, involving six district teams of Bengal, had run into into rough weather after the All India Football Federation questioned the authenticity of the registered teams and advised FIFA to temporarily suspend them from Transfer Matching System (TMS), which allows a club to recruit foreign players.

The AIFF, though, cleared the decks after an emergency committee meeting last week.

PLS has grabbed the country`s attention since signing "icon" players such as Italy`s World Cup-winning former skipper Fabio Cannovaro, former Argentina striker Hernan Crespo, Englishman Robbie Fowler, France`s Robert Pires and Nigeria`s Jay Jay Okocha.


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