Kolkata: A peeved West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced Monday that Shree Cement have ended their five-year deal with East Bengal. This decision left East Bengal club in a serious financial crisis ahead of the upcoming Indian Super League (ISL) season. Without an investor, East Bengal many not be able to play in the ISL. The cement giants had bought 76 per cent stakes in a dramatic takeover of the club, days before the last season. Mamata Banerjee herself had played a key role in the negotiations.
The chief minister said Shree Cement have returned the sporting rights to East Bengal. Despite the ‘short time’ she remained hopeful of the red-and-gold’s future in the upcoming ISL season, starting November 19 in Goa.
“I’ve received a letter from the authorities (Shree Cement Limited) at the very last moment that will not be able to run the show (at East Bengal),” Banerjee told reporters at Nabanna, the state secretariat. “It’s a very bad attitude, to keep the club’s fate hanging for several months and then pulling out at the last moment. We are very sad and annoyed,” she added.
The East Bengal management has been in loggerheads with SCL over the final binding agreement that snowballed into the crisis.
Banerjee revealed that the investors had met her August 16, assuring that the matter would be sorted soon. “So what happened that things changed so suddenly, what is the mystery behind it?” she asked.
“East Bengal have a great legacy. We all want Mohun Bagan and East Bengal to play in the ISL. I am very happy that Mohun Bagan are playing and we all want East Bengal to play in the ISL too. We will also let them know that we are displeased with the situation. We will try to sort this out. Time is very short, let’s see. I urge everyone in the club management to come forward and deal with the crisis,” Banerjee added.
East Bengal top executive official Nitu Sarkar however said they are yet to receive the letter of disassociation from SCL. “We are yet to receive the letter, so cannot comment at this point of time. But we are hopeful that we will play in the ISL,” Sarkar said.
The club management had signed an initial term sheet in September last year as the sporting rights as well all its assets and properties (including intellectual) were reportedly transferred to the newly formed joint venture ‘SC East Bengal’.
It had paved their dramatic entry into ISL last season where the Robbie Fowler-coached side had a pathetic ninth place finish with nine losses, eight draws and just three wins.
But trouble brewed in the build up to the upcoming season as the HM Bangur-owned SCL refused to ‘spend a penny’ on team-building unless the final agreement was signed. East Bengal club executive committee had decided not to sign the final agreement claiming discrepancies in the initial term.