Banerjee’s confirmation that the marriage between the Kolkata club and the cement giants is over, has taken everybody associated with the club by shock putting EB’s participation in the Indian Super League (ISL) in jeopardy. Shree Cement had made a dramatic acquisition of 76% stakes in East Bengal, enabling them to put together a squad and play the ISL last year.
“I’ve received a letter from the authorities (Shree Cement Limited) at the very last moment that they will not be able to run the show (at East Bengal),” Banerjee, while talking to the media at Nabanna, revealed. “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 bone of contention between the two warring parties is the final agreement. The chief minister had reportedly met Shree Cement officials on August 16, with the latter assuring that a favourable outcome could be worked out soon. She asked in confusion, “So what happened that things changed so suddenly, what is the mystery behind it?”
“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 and 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,” she added.
East Bengal authorities, however, claimed they were yet to get a formal letter on the contract termination. “We are yet to receive the letter, so can not comment at this point of time. But we are hopeful to play ISL,” said Nitu Sarkar, a senior club official.
East Bengal had signed a term sheet with Shree Cement last September whereby the porting rights and assets were transferred under the banner SC East Benga. This had allowed them to compete in the ISL where they finished ninth under the tutelage of former Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler.
But the cement giants refused to invest any further this year unless a final agreement was formalised between both parties to which East Bengal refused, reportedly over irregularities in the initial term sheet. They didn’t sign the final agreement sent by Shree Cement on August 16 promoting the latter to call it a day
Now, the ball is again in Banerjee’s court. She belled the cat once, can she stem the rot again