Football league kicks off amid venue crisis

Bangladesh Premier League football will kick off today amid a venue crisis inside the city of Dhaka and the objection of the Bangladesh Archery Federation over one of the two venues announced for the first leg.

The Football Federation of Bangladesh released the fixtures for the first leg on Wednesday, where Shaheed Ahsan Ullah Master Stadium in Tongi and Bir Shreshtha Shaheed Flight Lieutenant Motiur Rahman Stadium in Munshiganj were declared venues for the league’s opening stage.

On day one, defending champions Bashundhara Kings will begin their quest for the third straight league title by taking on newcomers Swadhinata Krira Sangha in Tongi.

Three-time defending champions Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club will face Uttar Baridhara Club in the other opening day match in Munshiganj.

Both games are scheduled to start at 3:00 p.m.

The home of Bangladeshi football, the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka, has been under renovation since late September 2021, and the BFF is struggling to organize the BPL during the pandemic without its main venue.

The BFF professional league committee originally planned to hold the 12-team competition at seven venues before changing its decision on January 29, scrapping four venues – Gopalganj, Rajshahi, Sylhet and Cumilla – due to the Covid surge.

BFF then attempted to add Bangladesh Army Stadium in Dhaka alongside Bashundhara Sports Complex and the aforementioned stadiums in Tongi and Munshiganj for the first leg.

But the army stadium was already reserved for other programs and the Bashundhara site authority did not agree with the terms of the league committee.

Bashundhara demanded to use their ground as a home venue for Bashundhara Kings but BFF did not allow it as there is no option for clubs to have a home venue in this edition .

With no other option in sight, the BFF on February 1 finally decided to remove these two venues from the list before publishing the fixtures for the first leg.

“Now the league will be held at two venues until the Covid-19 situation improves,” professional league committee chairman Abdus Salam Murshedy told the media.

“At the last meeting we decided that there would be no home and away venues in the league for this edition. We tried our best to convince the Bashundhara authorities but we could not reach an agreement,” Murshedy said.

The BFF now faces opposition from the Archery Federation, which uses Tongi Stadium for year-round archery camps.

Archery Federation President Lt. Gen. (Retired) Mohammad Mainul Islam claimed the BFF made no attempt to coordinate with them, violating National Sports Council guidelines .

“Without any prior communication, the BFF sent us a letter on February 1 and declared the match BPL on February 2,” Mainul told a press conference on Wednesday.

“As per NSC guidelines, the BFF league organizers were supposed to sit down with us to coordinate, but they didn’t. This match will greatly hamper the preparation of our archers,’ he added.

Mainul said the BFF’s decision will hamper the national archery camp for the upcoming Asian Games, Asian Cup and World Championship in March-April.

German national archery team coach Martin Frederick also expressed his displeasure over the matter as he had to cancel the day’s training session.

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