Friday, November 02, 2007


GANGTOK, October 31: The annual Governor’s Gold Cup usually draws a huge number of people to the Paljor Stadium.
But amidst the excitement with the ongoing 29th All India Governor’s Gold Cup 2007 here in the Capital, there are many who seems discontented with the way the Sikkim Football Association (SFA) has managed the affairs of a premiere football tournament of such kind.
According to reports, the strength of spectators this year has dramatically come down as compared to previous years.
There area a number of reasons for the football enthusiasts to complain, including the exclusion of big teams, unanticipated hike in the entry fee and dearth of publicity campaign.
Meanwhile, the delay from the side of the Home Department in issuing a circular to grant all government offices, institutions, schools and colleges half-holidays during the day of the matches right from the beginning of the Gold Cup has also contributed to the low crowd at the Stadium, it is opined.
It is learnt that the system of half day off to all Government offices and schools would be granted from the quarter final matches, which will begin tomorrow.
Talking to SIKKIM EXPRESS regarding hike in entry fee, General Secretary, SFA, Menla Ethenpa had this to say: “The entry fee has been increased by Rs 5 for both single and doubles matches. This is done considering the money spent on bringing in good teams for the Gold Cup, whereby the SFA need to pay for everything from food, lodging and transportation to game fee and other miscellaneous expenses.”
Mr. Ethenpa also stated that that the rate for entry tickets has been revised after a gap of nearly seven years. The Association at present charges Rs 25 from the earlier rate at Rs 20 per head for the hillside gallery and Rs 30 for double matches, he said. Similarly, for the southern and northern gallery, the rates have gone up as high as Rs 40 for single and Rs 50 for double matches alongside Rs 50 for single and Rs 70 for double matches for viewers interested in taking a seat in the western gallery. As for the VIP gallery, the entry fee remains the same at Rs 200.
Since all the big teams like Mohan Bagan, Air India, Tata Football Academy and others are participating in the IFA League, Durand Cup 2007 and other ongoing tournaments in the country, the SFA could not reveal their participation in the Gold Cup this time, the SFA General Secretary informed.
The organizers also failed to publicize the event like the earlier years. For instance, the use of mobile vans to inform the public about the daily highlight could not be done owing to the Code of Conduct.
However, with the lifting of the code of conduct, the SFA have plans to initiate publicity through mobile vans from tomorrow.
Lack of floodlights in the premise of Paljor Stadium was another reason that annoyed the people. The 2nd quarter final match played yesterday between Chittagaon Abahoni (Bangladesh) and Punjab Police had to be called off due to absence of light. The match had to be called off without any result.
“Had there been any provisions for floodlights, it was definite that the match would have come to an end yesterday and that we would not have waited for yet another day to watch the match to come to an end,” stated a youth from Tadong. “The ultra modern Paljor Stadium ought to have provision for floodlights besides its international looks,” added his friend.
Stating that SFA is paying the maintenance fee at Rs 2,000 and 10% of the profit from the entry fees collected from the spectators on a daily basis to Sports and Youth Affairs Department, Mr. Ethenpa voiced that it is the duty of the concerned Department to provide them with the requisite amenities including floodlights.
Unfortunately, the electronic score board, priced at Rs 50 Lakhs still does not function.
It may be mentioned here that the electronic score board, which was installed last year by the Buildings and Housing Department has still not been officially handed over to Sports and Youth Affairs Department.
According to RK Rai, Joint Director, Sports and Youth Affairs Department, there has been a decrease in the maintenance fee of Paljor Stadium from the earlier Rs 5,000 in 2006 to Rs 2,000 in the current season. The reason-to promote sports and games and that the Department is always at the forefront to encourage the fullest of sporting activities amongst the locals by offering them maintenance fee at the most reasonable rates, he added.
Besides, Rs 2,000, the Department is entitled to avail of 10% of profit from the fees charged for the spectators visiting the stadium on a daily basis.
When asked to comment on the absence of floodlights in the premises of the stadium and on the faulty functioning of the electronic score board, which was installed last year, Mr. Rai said that provisions for floodlights was not included in renovation project of the Stadium taking into consideration that football matches at nighttime are rarely organized.
“If floodlights are really necessary, we will definitely think of creating the requisite infrastructure in the forthcoming future,” he added.