ISL: ATK-Chennaiyin final to be played in empty stadium

Chennaiyin FC
Chennaiyin FC are eyeing their third ISL triumph. Photo: ISL

New Delhi: The Indian Super League (ISL) final between ATK and Chennaiyin FC on Saturday will be played without any spectators at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Margao due to the coronavirus pandemic, the organisers said on Thursday.

Owing to the current preventive measures advised by the Sports Ministry, league organiser Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) has decided to hold the season's final behind closed doors.

The FSDL said the decision was taken in view of the health and safety of players, fans and support staff.

"Upcoming Hero Indian Super League 2019-20 Final on Saturday, March 14, 2020, between ATK FC and Chennaiyin FC, will now be played behind closed doors at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, Goa," the ISL organisers said in a statement.

The decision came after the Sports Ministry's advisory to all national federations to follow the Health Ministry's advisory and avoid large gatherings in sports events.

"...ensure that no public gathering takes place in any sporting event. In the event the sporting event cannot be avoided, the same could be done without allowing gathering of people, including spectators," read an order from the Sports Ministry.

ATK reached the final after beating defending champions Bengaluru FC 3-2 on aggregate in the semifinals over two legs.

Chennaiyin FC had beaten FC Goa 6-5 on aggregate to reach the summit clash.

This is the second time that an ISL match will be played in an empty stadium after this year's game between NorthEast United FC and Bengaluru FC was held behind closed doors in Guwahati in the wake of the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Assam.

The FSDL said it will soon initiate the process of ticket refunds and an announcement will be made through Hero ISL channels.

The final will be telecast live on Star Sports, Hotstar and Jio TV.