Panjim, Nov 16 (GCCurrentAffairs) Frustrated at police and traffic bandobast bills, for their home games at the Fatorda stadium in Goa, which are more than double of other venues, FC Goa may look at moving out of Goa. It isn’t quite official, but at least two states are thinking of inviting Goa’s own team FC Goa to play some games on their home turf where the Jaidev Modi backed Goa team, will not have to pay close to half a crore of rupees for each game. According to sources, Odisha has already signed an MOU for the youth, women and some other teams to play in the state. It is learnt that Kholapur, not far from the state’s northern border and the Odisha government led by Chief Minister Navin Patnaik are absolutely open for FC Goa to play their home matches on their turf.
The FC Goa management has written to Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, stating that is becoming “unviable” to continue to have matches at the Fatorda stadium in Goa. It has stated that if costs of personnel and the stadium hire cost of RS 7.5 lakhs per match is not reduced, FC Goa “will be compelled” to play their matches in some other state.
The FC Goa management, importantly is looking at possible ways to reduce their costs. It clearly is paying more than double to the state government for staging matches in Fatorda than almost every other city/ state based football team in the ISL. It is shocking that one of the smallest states in the competition is causing the biggest headaches to a team which is seen as one of Goa’s major sporting and even social unifiers. Last week’s incident of a young man in his twenties, Lester D Souza and his parents Seby and Tina, getting mercilessly thrashed by the Goa police inside the Fatorda stadium, during the games, has left Goan football fans fuming. The club too, was dragged into the controversy, while it was already smarting under excessive bills heaped on them from season one and slapped on them in quick succession. They were forced to settle Rs 7. 3 crores out of the billed amount of Rs 9.7 cr from season 1 (2014).
According to documents available with The Goa Spotlight, the FC Goa management, which was earlier with Srinivas Dempo and Dattaraj Salgaonkar (and others) and now subsequently with the Deltin group, the club was billed Rs 1.5 crores. In 2015, this rose to Rs 3.2 crores. In 2016 this came down to Rs 1.7 crores but then jumped back to Rs 3.3 crores in 2018.
A scrutiny of the bills, of two of seasons, in possession of The Goa Spotlight presents a strange and interesting pattern. The bills presented to “The Goan Football Club Pvt ltd ( the company which owned the club at that stage and stages the matches) for 2016 ( October 8 to Dec 12) are as follows Rs 1.09 crores ( Rs 1,09, 65,664) “towards personnel provided for police bandobast duty” and Rs 63.5 lakhs (Rs 63,56,372) “towards Goa police personnel for traffic arrangements”, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at Fatorda, the home ground for all of FC Goa’s matches . These bills were not cleared earlier and have landed on the desk of senior personnel of the current management of FC Goa, primarily owned by the Deltin group.
The bills for 2017-18 are a quantum leap presented to FC Goa. The police bandobast bills amounted to Rs 2.86 crores (Rs 2,686,90,048), more than double of the previous year, whereas the bill for traffic management was marginally lower at Rs 52.1 lakhs (Rs 52,10,220) making the overall expense virtually double of the previous year
The mounting bills has led to the club management taking up the issue very strongly with the Sports and Tourism Minister Babu Ajgaonkar who has accepted a representation from the club to have a “fair value”. The club has pointed out that a figure of Rs 75 to 85 lakhs per season is what other cities charge and FC Goa would be willing to pay even above that. However it has called for a practical and pragmatic amount.
The state government has now formed a committee including of Michael D Souza, Addl Secretary Finance and Secretary to the Chief Minister and Sports Ashok Kumar, to work out a proposal.
However, the onus is on the Goa police, to justify the use of over 600 personnel and for the government to justify why the club should be charged for 2 shifts when personnel are deployed mainly for two hours (5 pm to 7 pm) during the first shift and four hours (7 pm to 11 pm) for the second shift and the club billed the same for both durations.
Speaking to The Goa Spotlight IG Goa Jaspal Singh explained the stand of the police “ Deployment of personnel, for a private commercial event needs to be charged. When we get personnel from other states, we are billed. Even when we get forces for elections from outside states, we need to pay”. When pointed out that the issue was not with paying but the rates charged and the fluctuating rates for the same personnel every year, he said rates are decided and finalised by the government and not by the police department.
Asked why Goa’s rates are so much higher than other states, including the big ones, the IG said “Some states can afford to give forces pro-bono, Goa being a small state, since its resources are minimal has different rates. It’s a demand and supply issue”
But it can’t be understood how these rates can be doubled, year to year without any justification.
Reacting to this, FC Goa personnel feel that the onus has to be taken by the police to right size the deployment and not be rigid about a circular which states that even if a minute is used from a shift of four hours, the client will be charged for the entire duration of the shift. “Unless the finance department is made aware of the problem and the genuine need to solve it, this will never be done. And without the risk of sounding alarming, does Goa really want, its football team to move out of the state, a sport which unifies Goans. All it takes it some fairness in rates compared to other states, so that we can afford to stage matches here”, said an official of the company.
With the ISL taking a break for close to two months, there is time for the issue to be solved. Conversely, it also gives FC Goa time to think of other options.