I-League club Real Kashmir FC will host all their home games at the TRC Ground in Srinagar for the upcoming season despite the ongoing lockdown in the valley, club co-owner Sandeep Chattoo told reporters here on Tuesday.
Asked about the implications of the lockdown in Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370 in August, Chattoo insisted that the same wouldn’t impact Srinagar’s ability to host league games.
“We’ve received the same kind of assurances that any other state would give an I-League club,” he said. However, he added the club will reduce the capacity for spectators in view of the security situation. “We are expecting many fans of ours to turn up. Because of the current situation, we are looking at how to cut down on the number of fans coming into the stadium.”
Chattoo also ridiculed concerns over the ongoing lockdown in the Kashmir valley, which entered its 100th day on Tuesday, saying it helped keep the players’ minds off their phones. “It’s helped us a lot because with internet, players waste a lot of time on the net. With communication, they spend too much time with their girlfriends. (Head coach) David (Robertson) is very happy because all concentration, all energies are channelised towards giving their best in practicing and make sure that we win the league.”
Robertson, who is now into his third season as the club’s head coach, said the communication clampdown in the Valley has helped bring his team together as a unit.
“I’ve been here for close to three years in Kashmir. It’s not easy being a coach or a player here. But it (the lockdown) makes us closer together as a unit; we are spending a lot of time together as a group,” Robertson said.
While the schedule for the new season of the I-League, which recently lost its top-flight status to the Indian Super League, is yet to be officially announced, a tentative fixture list has been shared with the participating clubs. Real Kashmir will begin their campaign in Kolkata against East Bengal on December 3.
They are scheduled to play their first home game of the season against Gokulam Kerala on December 12.