The much-awaited Premier League Soccer (PLS), which has already grossed over Rs 100 crore, has been postponed because of non-availability of grounds, according to an official.
The organisers had earlier announced March 24 as the tentative date for launching the tournament, which has roped in famed soccer internationals like Fabio Cannavaro, Hernan Crespo and Robert Pires.
"We are yet to get most of the grounds. The Indian football Association was supposed to make available these grounds. But so far that has not happened. So I think we have to postpone it by 10-15 days," commercial partner Celebrity Management Group (CMG) Chief Executive Officer Dharamdutt Pandey told IANS.
"But we are very much hoping to get the grounds soon. Then we will need some time to prepare the grounds," Dutt said.
IFA, the governing body of the game in West Bengal, is co-organising the PLS in association with the CMG.
IFA secretary Utpal Ganguly was not in a position to give a fresh date. "The tournament is being deferred. The new dates will be announced soon," Ganguly told IANS.
As per the tournament rules, it was for the IFA to ready the turfs.
"Of the six grounds needed, we have already got two in Durgapur and Kolkata. We are waiting for the IFA to get the remaining four ready," said CMG Executive Director Bhaswar Goswami.
Sources said the IFA was yet to sort out issues with the West Bengal government, which has said the venues might not be free to host matches if the tournament was held next month.
Earlier, the event seemed in trouble as the All India Football Federation questioned the authenticity of the registered teams and advised FIFA to slap a temporary suspension. However, the bottleneck was cleared last week.
The tournament, modelled on cricket's cash-rich Indian Premier League, has collected Rs 100 crore plus from franchise and foreign player auctions.
The PLS is tentatively slated to be played in six cities of the state, with six franchises
The organisers have lined up 35 matches and a prize purse of Rs.1.50 crore, already drawing industrial houses and former greats in international football.
Six industrial houses have already shelled out over Rs.70 crore for buying the six franchises - Kolkata, Howrah, Barasat, Durgapur, Haldia and Siliguri - at the first auction in the history of the game in India last month.
Later, players like Cannavaro, Crespo and Pires were lapped up by the franchises for astronomical prices at another auction.
Five of the franchises have announced the names of their teams.
Kolkata, owned by the Camelia Group, would be christened Kolkata Camelians, while Barasat would be named Barasat Euro Musketeers by its purchaser, Uro Infra Realty India Limited.
The other teams are: Durgapur Vox Champions owned by Tulip Infonet, Howrah Manchester bought by Synsys Infotech and Bengal Tuskers (team Siliguri) owned by Aajay Consultants. The name of the Haldia franchise is yet to be announced.