The tussle between majority investor Shree Cements and East Bengal continues to get messier. As per the latest reports, the club and its players continue to face an uncertain future. Shree Cement will need to furnish Rs 180 crore bank guarantee to the Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), Indian Super League’s (ISL) promoters on Monday. The two parties are currently locked in a bitter battle over the signing of the final agreement, jeopardizing East Bengal’s future in ISL.
Last season, when East Bengal joined ISL, the investor Shree Cement did not need to provide a bank guarantee as there was no definitive agreement in place. The two parties only signed a term sheet on September 1, with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announcing the club’s ISL entry. They agreed to sign the final agreement at a later date.
However, since then, East Bengal club officials have refused to sign the agreement as they claim the fine prints are not what they agreed on. The investor and the club officials since have engaged in a bitter dispute that has spilled over in public with club supports asking for officials’ resignation. With the deadline looming large, it is unlikely that the FSDL will extend it in East Bengal’s favour. Punjab FC is ISL’s standby, in case the Kolkata-based club fails to come to an agreement, as reports suggest.
The implications for East Bengal could be catastrophic if Shree Cement does decide to pull out. The club will have to pay the players and support staff who are on multiple-year contracts. Furthermore, East Bengal will also need to pay over Rs 50 crore to Shree Cement for their part in ISL 2020-21. Apart from this compensation, coach Robbie Fowler and his assistant Rennedy Singh will also need to be paid by the club as they had signed two-year deals. The transfer bans imposed by FIFA after two players claimed for non-payment of salaries make their case worse, as they try to navigate this situation with time running out.