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Opinion: What should be the road ahead for SC East Bengal?

Published at :March 13, 2022 at 2:18 PM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : ISL Media)

Sattyik Sarkar

The club have finished at the bottom of the ISL 2021/22 table with just one win in 20 matches.

Can anyone remember when SC East Bengal went through a disastrous period like this in their glorious past? Two consecutive seasons stuffed with failure. In their first season in the ISL, they managed a ninth-place finish. This season, they sank even further down as they finished at the bottom of the table. This is beyond underwhelming for a club that has won almost every competition in India.

But dwelling in the past and reminiscing Bhaichung Bhutia or Majid Bishkar scoring goals won’t help the club. A practical way needs to be figured out in order to bring the 102-year-old entity back on track.

In this piece, we’ll be sharing the road ahead for SC East Bengal.

Settle matters with their investors

SC East Bengal tied knots, well not completely, with Shree Cement Limited. The Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, played a huge part in this. However, even if the term-sheet was signed by the parties, the final agreement didn’t take place. Why didn’t that happen? There were a few clauses that the club officials wanted to negotiate. The officials wanted to speak to the investors, but Shree Cement didn’t pay heed to their cry.

The next season, that is in 2021, the investors were firm on their decision that no penny will be invested unless the final agreement is signed. Months went by. SC East Bengal didn’t build a team. The investors remained rigid in their stance. Also, the club officials stuck to their decision to not sign the final agreement until some clauses are negotiated. The supporters agitated on July 21. Finally, in the last week of August, both parties came to a conclusion. Again, it was the Chief Minister who urged the parties to work together.

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A team was assembled in just 5-6 days. With current investors Shree Cement Limited set to withdraw, the club officials should work to get back the sporting rights under their belt to ensure a situation akin to the controversy with Quess Corp, when they parted ways with the club, doesn't arise again. However, sources from the current management have claimed that the club will get back the rights without any hassle.

Finding a new investor

SC East Bengal-Bashundhara Group
SC East Bengal will travel to Bangladesh to meet Bashundhara Group

As mentioned previously, there are hardly any chances of the current investors continuing at the club. Hence, bagging an investor as soon as possible will be a good thing to do. A few days back, the Managing Director of Basundhara Group (Bangladesh), Sayem Sobhan Anvir along with his officials visited the club. The company has showed interest in investing in Indian football. East Bengal officials are also set to travel to Bangladesh next week to further discuss the possibility of Bashundhara coming abroad as investor.

Basundhara Group is a big company and already has three clubs, Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra, Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club and Basundhara Kings, in their portfolio. All three clubs ply their trade in the Bangladesh Premier League. If the conglomerate join hands with East Bengal, then they’ll add another team to their aegis.

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But, even if Basundhara Group doesn’t invest in the club, the officials should try to keep options ready, so that the club doesn’t suffer like it did this season.

Focus on team-building

Now, even if the club doesn’t get an investor after Shree Cement Limited leave, it would be advisable that the club officials keep up with the team-building process. The club have already signed a pre-contract agreement with goalkeeper Suryash Jaiswal among others. They are targeting a local pool of talents. But, these players or rather their quality (with due respect to them) wouldn’t be enough to fight in the Indian Super League. A player who plays in the I-League consumes time to fit in the top tier.

Suryash Jaiswal
SC East Bengal signed a pre-contract agreement with goalkeeper Suryash Jaiswal (Courtesy: @jaiswal.suryash/Instagram)

Sources close to Khel Now have claimed that the club officials have already started contacting various agencies for players. In 2020, they did almost the same and signed a lot of players prior to the marriage with Shree Cement Limited. However, most of those players weren’t picked up by the investors for the ISL campaign. Reportedly, the officials have an aim to participate in a few more tournaments apart from the ISL. Thus, they must focus on building a team as soon as the season concludes.

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Bringing Stability

This has been the main problem at the club for a few years now. Stability at an institution is very important for smooth functioning. Continuous overhauls don’t help for sure, but perhaps they bring in more damage. A permanent solution regarding committed investors should be prioritized by the officials, so that the club can be run in a hassle-free manner. A permanent management for at least the next 10 years means a smooth flow in operations – be it building a team, working on the academy, the women’s team or even other sporting activities.

Implement a philosophy

The possession of a philosophy is very important in football nowadays. It makes scouting and team-building easier. After bagging an investor, the two parties should consult about implementing a philosophy at the club. For example, FC Barcelona play a brand of tiki-taka football. The players are taught the style and they train in the same for years in the youth system, before getting promoted to the senior team.

Even when these youngsters don the senior team colours, they don’t face much of a problem to adapt. Also, if the club recruit players from other academies or clubs, with the guidance of good scouts and video analysis team, they will be able to locate players who will properly fit into the club’s system (style of play).

In India, FC Goa have been doing this for the past few years. If we look at their current team, many players have risen from the ranks. Even when they are promoted to the Indian Super League, the only problem (for most) they face is physicality or at times quality. If SC East Bengal can do the same, it will bring new dawn at the club.

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