Kolkata: Shree Cement Limited (SCL) officially ended Tuesday their topsy-turvy two-year association with Kolkata football heavyweights East Bengal club. They handed back the sporting rights to East Bengal.
It was primarily due to efforts of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, that the Hari Mohan Bangur-owned cement conglomerate bought a majority stake of 76 per cent in East Bengal to help them take part in the India Super League (ISL) in 2020-21.
But the association did not go off well as the East Bengal executive committee, which is primarily run by Debabrata (Nitu) Sarkar refused to sign the final agreement. The club claimed discrepancies between the final agreement and initial term sheet.
Confirming the development, Shree Cement Ltd CEO Col Shibaji Samaddar said, “Yes, Shree Cement has moved out of East Bengal after two seasons. The process to hand over the sporting rights was on for the last couple of days.” Samaddar added, “They did not sign the final agreement and as per the term sheet the association was for two years, so it finally ended.”
After coming on board, Shree Cement had promised a long term association with the red-and-gold brigade. However, trouble started brewing before the second season regarding the term sheet.
It was once again at the behest of Banerjee, Shree Cement agreed to continue for the last ISL edition. East Bengal however performed hopelessly as they finished bottom of the table with just one win from 20 matches, which included 11 defeats and eight draws.
Under the Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler, East Bengal had a poor ninth place finish in their maiden ISL season with nine losses, eight draws and just three wins.
This was not the first time the red-and-gold club management has found themselves in a logjam with their investors. Before SCL, East Bengal also had a similar fate with their Bangalore-based investors Quess Corp who too exited after a two-year association in a premature end to their three-year agreement.
A top East Bengal official also confirmed receiving the sporting rights back. He informed ‘we would formally announce the development on Wednesday’. The official further said, the club are in ‘talks with Bangladesh investors Bashundhara Group which owns Bangladeshi top tier club Bashundhara Kings.