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The former Red and Gold coaches reacted to the violent incidents outside the club premises.

It is time the club takes stock of the situation and give the fans what they deserve, said former East Bengal and Kerala Blasters coach Eelco Schattorie, a day after several East Bengal fans were lathi-charged and arrested for protesting outside the club premises. Khalid Jamil, former EB coach and a lifelong fan, hoped bygone good days return.

Days after the East Bengal officials announced their stand to not sign the final agreement with investors Shree Cement, hundreds of fans took to the streets and staged a protest outside the club tent on July 21. While one section protested against the legacy officials’ stand, another group walked in support of the officials. Both sections marched on the pathway leading to the club tent, holding placards and shouting slogans. The protesting fans called for officials to ‘sign and resign.’

But, the peaceful protests soon turned violent after police resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the crowd. The violent clash between the two groups of fans and the local police left many fans injured.

“It’s a never-ending story,” said Schattorie referring to the differences between fans and club officials. “East Bengal is an Indian treasure,” he added. Jamil echoed similar sentiments. “East Bengal is one of the best clubs in India,” said the NorthEast United tactician. Under Jamil, the Red and Gold missed out on the I-League title by a close margin.

Both coaches hoped everything is worked out at the earliest. “I hope East Bengal returns to its position as an elite club in Indian football. I am a big fan of the club. Irrespective, of my being there at the club or not I am a well-wisher,” said Jamil.

Fans Demand Debabrata Sarkar and Kalyan Majumdar’s resignation

While fans demanded the club officials to sign the agreement, the administrators led by Executive Committee member Debabrata Sarkar and club secretary Kalyan Majumdar have maintained that the final draft insults the institution and is aimed at curtailing the rights of its members. Fans have also blamed the two officials for the club’s long trophy drought. Schattorie also agreed that under them the club has not improved at all.

“I don’t see any improvement at the club and it hurts me,” said the 49-year-old. Jamil, however, disagrees. “During my time at the club, everything was fine. Everyone I know at the club works for its betterment. I have seen them work tirelessly to take the club forward.”

Should the club then sign the agreement? Jamil was reluctant to give a definite answer. “Whatever happens will be for the good of East Bengal,” he opined. The Dutchman though hopes the club management takes a back-seat and talk through the misunderstanding.

“I really hope people in-charge can look back and try to be critical of the structure and foundation in place. I hope they can take charge of the situation and give the fans what they deserve,” he said.

While Jamil chose to play it safe, he spoke highly of Debabrata Sarkar and the work he has done at East Bengal. “I have worked with Nitu daa (big brother). Whatever decision he makes will be best for the club. I have closely worked with him and know his love for the club. Hope things get better.”

For Schattorie, it is more than just hope. “They (management) will need to seriously look at the club’s foundation and its structure and decide the pathway, which will help to build the club and achieve success,” he concluded.

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