Kochi: CPM leader and Kunnathunad MLA P V Srinijan landed in a controversy after he asked district sports council authorities to lock up the gates of Sports Academy ground here, disrupting a football selection trials by the Kerala Blasters this morning.
Srinijan, who is also the president of the District Sports Council, asked authorities to lock the gates of the Sports Academy ground in Panampilly Nagar accusing the premier football club of failing to remit rent. He claimed the ISL club failed to pay Rs 8 lakh in rent for the past eight months.
When aspiring footballers were forced to wait for hours for the gates to open, their parents began to protest. Some of the children had reached the city a day before to take part in the football trials. After Manorama News aired their protest, Sports Minister V Abdurahiman interfered in the matter and directed the Kochi Corporation councilors to act immediately. They rushed to the spot and opened the gate.
Blasters refute charges
The Kerala Blasters refuted the MLA's charges and said it had remitted the rent on time. The club also pointed out that it had signed an agreement with the State Sports Council for using the ground for trials.
The State Sports Council, on its part, questioned the MLA's decision to lock the gates when all relevant papers have been signed.
Responding to the controversy, Srinijan criticized the State Sports Council for not informing him or the district sports council of the agreement with the Kerala Blasters.
"The State Sports Council did not reveal that there was an agreement with Kerala Blasters and that the rent arrears had been received. As the president of the District Sports Council, they should have informed me about this," he said.
"The stadium comes under the District Sports Council. I believe the State Sports Council cannot unilaterally enter into an agreement with a club. Should the District Sports Council not be informed of such contracts?" he said.
"I did not close the gate. it was decided not to open it today," he added.
He said that permission was given to open the gate after seeing the news that the children were being forced to wait outside.