The Kolkata-based outfit have been at loggerheads with the investors regarding the final agreement.
East Bengal’s hopes of playing the Indian Super League this season look all but over with Shree Cement walking out of the deal. The investors are set to return the sporting rights to East Bengal. This, in turn, will leave the club with no sponsors. And with only weeks remaining before the start of the ISL 2021/22 season, East Bengal’s participation looks unlikely.
Shree Cement, whose arrival as investors paved the way for East Bengal to play in the ISL last season, have been at loggerheads with the club over the signing of the final agreement. Last season, both parties signed a term sheet enabling the Kolkata-based club’s participation in the ISL. They had also agreed to transfer ownership to the investors at a later date.
But, East Bengal officials have dragged the deal for over 10 months, leading to an impasse between the investors and the club. The officials refused to sign the final agreement citing discrepancies in the draft. Certain clauses in the final agreement do not match with the first term sheet, the officials claimed. Despite multiple meetings and the intervention of an intermediary, it looks like the differences have not been settled.
The investors have already forwarded the letter handing back East Bengal’s sporting rights to FSDL, who were acting as the intermediary. A copy of the letter has also been sent to Nabanna, office of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Shree Cement are reportedly waiting for a response from FSDL before sending the final copy to the club.
Impasse between East Bengal and Shree Cement
With East Bengal left with no sponsors after the exit of Quess Corp., West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee intervened and invited Shree Cement, who bought a 76% stake at the Red and Gold and became the club’s investors. East Bengal and Shree Cement signed a term sheet allowing the club’s participation in the ISL last season. Shree Cement also invested over ₹50 crore in the club. But, the corporates stopped pumping in more money after the club officials refused to sign the final agreement.
The officials claimed signing the agreement would curtail their rights. It would give the investors complete control over club property, club name, logo and other fundamental rights. Shree Cement, however, maintain that the final agreement is just formalization of the term sheet signed by both parties last year.
East Bengal’s ISL Season
East Bengal made their ISL debut last season with former Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler as head coach. But, the club did not perform to expectations and finished ninth in an 11-team league, after winning only three games. A lot of it was down to their player recruitment, with the club not having enough time to build a squad capable of challenging for the top four spots.
This season with the agreement with investors Shree Cement still uncertain, East Bengal are officially yet to announce a new signing.