West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday expressed her displeasure with Shree Cement’s decision to end the joint venture with East Bengal at the last moment. During a press conference at the CM’s office in Nabanna, the Chief Minister acknowledged that she had received a letter from Shree Cement where the investors have expressed their decision to end their association with Indian Super League (ISL) club East Bengal.
“I am no one to take any decision on East Bengal. The authorities who were there earlier have sent me a letter to inform me that they will not be able to continue with East Bengal at this very last moment. This is a very bad attitude,” said Banerjee, who had played a key role in SCL’s tie-up with East Bengal in its last-minute bid to play in ISL last season.
“After continuing negotiations for such a long time, now they have backed off — it is very irritating. Then why did you continue talks for such a long period? They spoke to me and said by the 16th everything will be resolved. What happened after that?” she added.
However, Bannerjee did assure fans that she will try to sort things between the two parties so that a club like East Bengal can play in the country’s top-tier league which is the ISL. “We all want clubs like Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, and Mohammedan Sporting to play in the ISL. I am very happy that Mohun Bagan (ATKMB) is still playing in the ISL. We should all support EB during a difficult time like this,” she said.
As of now, there has been no official communication from either of the parties but if a decision of termination is taken by the investors then it could signal the end of East Bengal’s participation in the ISL and I-league.
However, in a report by news website xtratime, Hari Mohan Bangur, managing director of Shree Cement, has denied handing the sporting rights to East Bengal.
With just seven days left for the FIFA transfer window to close, East Bengal is running against time to set their house in order. According to reports, the Chief Minister has called a meeting of EB club officials and Shree Cement on Wednesday in a bid to resolve the matter.
For ardent supporters of the club, the only ray of hope is that the Chief Minister has stepped in herself to resolve the matter.
East Bengal – Shree Cement deal: A timeline of events
In June 2020, Quess Corp made an exit as the investor of East Bengal, and Shree Cement was brought on board as an investor. Thereafter, a joint venture — Shree Cement East Bengal Foundation was formed with 76 percent stakes for the new investors while the club had 24 percent.
A term sheet was also signed in September 2020 by both the parties and according to it, the club’s sporting rights as well all its assets and properties (including intellectual) were reportedly transferred to the newly formed joint venture.
However, the final binding agreement of the deal is yet to be signed and it is here that the impasse still exists. Despite several meetings and negotiations, this final agreement is yet to be signed.
Among the several points raised by the EB club officials as contentious issue include-