Ground given to Churchill Brothers club sparks row


Panaji : The Goa government’s decision to hand over a school ground to India’s top football club Churchill Brothers, managed by two state ministers, has sparked a furore with the opposition crying foul over it.

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The opposition has accused Sports Minister Babu Azgaonkar of flouting government norms in arbitrarily handing over a school playground at Benaulim, 40 km from here, to the I-league winning team without cabinet approval.

“How can you hand over a football ground arbitrarily to Churchill Brothers? Why was a cabinet decision not been taken, which is necessary for doling out land in such vast amount,” Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar asked in the assembly Monday.

Public Works Department Minister Churchill Alemao and Urban Development Minister Joaquim Alemao, who are brothers, are chief patron and club president respectively.

The sports minister’s controversial decision allows the Churchill Brothers club to use the ground for 33 years to set up an A-class stadium and other ancillary structures at a paltry annual rent of Rs.20,000.

The lease can be extended by a further 33 years. It grants the leasee the right to use the land to lay a FIFA standard sized pitch, floodlight installatins, a dope control room, a medical treatment room, a VIP seating area and sky boxes, among others.

Azgaonkar admitted that an expression of interest had not been invited while leasing the land to the club.

The assembly is expected to discuss the issue during the budget session which ends April 8.

Along with Dempo Sports Club and Salgaonkar Football Club, Churchill Brothers are three of the most popular clubs, with all three winning national league titles over the last few years.