The West Bengal government has called a meeting on Friday with 17 sports associations of the state, including cricket and football, to discuss plans for the resumption of sporting events after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
Most tournaments in the current season have already been called off because of the nationwide lockdown that was enforced in the last week of March to contain the contagious disease.
Sports associations are now looking for an early start to the next season, prominent among them is the Calcutta Football League Premier Division tournament.
“West Bengal sports minister Aroop Biswas has called a meeting at the state secretariat tomorrow afternoon to discuss the way forward. We are hopeful for an October start to the Calcutta League,” Indian Football Association secretary Joydeep Mukherjee told PTI.
The IFA top official also called on Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) chief Avishek Dalmiya at Eden Gardens on Thursday to discuss on ground sharing and avoid any possible clashes as both football and cricket seasons are likely to run parallel this time.
The Maidan grounds, which are leased from the Ministry of Defence, are used for football, cricket and hockey for four months’ each in a year which was not possible this season because of the COVID-19 lockdown.
“We started off a cordial discussion so that there’s no clash and misunderstanding as it seems the season is set for an October start this time. We have to work hand-in-hand and look to share the open grounds.”
The CAB has already started ground preparation looking at an early start to the next season.
“We do not know when we can resume cricket considering the prevailing circumstances. However, we are already procuring pitch soil to ensure that we can start the next season early, if the situation so allows. We would not want to waste any time unnecessarily.
“We had a positive meeting with Indian Football Association too. We may actually start the pitch preparation earlier than when it is usually done every year,” Avishek said in a CAB statement.
In the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan that ravaged the state on May 20, the CAB has also begun testing its floodlights, electronic scoreboard and turnstiles among others.
“With this season as good as over, we have started preparations for next season. We have no certainty when we will be able to begin next season. We are preparing beforehand so that the season can begin early,” CAB secretary Snehashis Ganguly said.
The CAB has also formed guidelines for resumption of its office, based on suggestions provided by its medical committee headed by top doctors of the city.
The CAB has formed a monitoring group which would be headed by vice-president Naresh Ojha.