The IPL-style football organisers IMG-Reliance on Friday began re-laying work at the main pitch of the Nehru Stadium for the tournament early next year, thereby investing in infrastructure development besides its marketing efforts to raise the profile of the game.
As per its plan on investing in stadium infrastructure, IMG Reliance started pitch refurbishment work at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, one of the venues for the IPL-style league to be held across eight cities from January 18-March 30 next year.
Once completed, the Nehru Stadium will have a quality pitch for international standard matches, the IMG-Reliance said.
In addition, IMG-Reliance will also work on re-laying the practice pitch at the stadium, which currently is in a very bad shape. After re-laying, the practice pitch will have a level-playing green top for teams to have a proper training.
Both the main as well as practice pitches are expected to be ready for use by January 15 next year.
"The upgradation of the Nehru Stadium, Delhi is being done as per the international standards and norms. The main field is being aerated and over seeded by RYE Grass (used for cold climate), certified and imported from the USA. We are using slow release fertilisers and foliar spray for achieving the desired results of grass turf," IMG-Reliance spokesperson told PTI.
"The IMG Reliance League will be a big boost to Indian football as the organisers are not only marketing the League at an international level but also enhancing, investing into the football infrastructure in the country for the growth of the game," he added.
IMG-Reliance, the commercial and marketing partners of All India Football Federation, has hired the services of Grogory Gillin, former Wembley stadium expert and current director Venue Operations Pt Ltd, Singapore, to recce the stadium.
Pitch and practice area refurbishment "at a certain level" will also begin soon at the stadia at other cities like Kochi, Chennai, Guwahati, Mumbai, Pune and Goa and all these will be based on Gillin's recommendation report.
According to Gillin's inspection report, the present condition of the Nehru Stadium pitch has "severe undulations on the field of play; irrigation issues, firmness of the surface, dry patches".
The pitch refurbishment at the Nehru stadium will ensure a green levelled field of play, essential for an international standard football match and even bounce on the turf to ensure high quality matches.
Good even surface without stones will ensure that there are no major injuries to players.
The IPL-style football tournament will feature 22 players in each team, with 10 foreign players, including a marquee player. Each franchise will also include eight domestic players and four local players from the catchment area in the under-23 category.
IMG-Reliance has already signed 39 domestic players and 20 players of AIFF developmental side Pailan Arrows will also be part of the league.
The international players are expected to be signed up for four months and it would be a mix of players who are free agents, recently retired and those who are coming on transfer or loan.
The opening match of the tournament will be played in Mumbai.