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Mohun Bagan fans protest during IFA Shield semi-final, demand corporate takeover

Written by: Uttiyo Sarkar

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Things are heating up in the Mariners' camp as rivals East Bengal look to push through ISL move. 

In a surprising turn of the events, Mohun Bagan fans held protests during their team's IFA Shield semi-final win against SAIL Burnpur at the Mohun Bagan Ground on Tuesday. The protest was primarily against the club's  failure to attract a corporate partnership like arch-rivals East Bengal, who tied up with Quess Corporation earlier this month.

During the half-time break of the match, loud chants broke out in the stands with the fans making their intentions clear in wanting to get the elusive corporate sponsorship themselves. There were loud chants and slogans being sung, mostly comprising of "We want corporate," "We want change" and "We want development." The fans also brought out many banners where they made it clear that they want large, corporate investors to take over the management and stabalize the sinking ship.



 

Mohun Bagan decided in favour of becoming a Public Limited Company two months ago

The Mariners fans themselves seem to be really worried about how the club is seemingly going backwards and unlike their arch-rivals, are doing nothing to try and re-invent as a top club in Indian football.

Upon being asked about exactly what the fans wanted, a Bagan fan, Saurish Mukherjee, who was avidly protesting stated, 'We want major corporate sponsors to come to the club. We've already seen the other club (East Bengal) being taken over by corporate sponsors and they've have already taken a big step forward in their quest to play in the ISL."

He added, "As compared to them, we don't have a single sponsor for the past three years. Why so? Mohun Bagan is a huge club, but why do we have no sponsors? Are we undergoing such bad days to see ourselves reduced to this?"

During the club's Annual General Meeting last month, General Secretary Anjan Mitra had stated that Mohun Bagan would transition into a public limited company. On this, Mukherjee said, 'No we don't want us to become a public limited company. We need to be taken over by corporate sponsors. The fiasco that happened in the AGM is something which has never happened in our history. It was absolutely humiliating for us to see that fiasco and watch our reputation be affected by it."

On being asked whether the top management of the club should be changed he said, "We don't care if our top officials are changed or not. We do not care whoever comes in, but we want a corporate takeover. We want a corporate investor to come in and help us play in India's top league, in the ISL. We all know what the I-league has been reduced to in the past few years."

He continued, "A few years ago in the national camp, eight-nine of our players would have been a part of the squad. Nowadays, we're bringing players who cannot survive in the ISL and come to Bagan as a second option. This needs to stop!"


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Further explaining the need for a corporate takeover, he said, 'We don't just want a corporate takeover to play in the ISL. We want it for the overall development of the club. The infrastructure, facilities all need to improve. The dressing rooms, gym are in a pitiful shape. As we don't have a sponsor for the past few years, the condition of our club has gone down because of the recklessness of our officials.'

He continued, 'Honestly, we don't care about the officials as long as there's development at the club. We've seen some dirty politics come into the club due to the voting system in our elections, but we want that to go. We don't care about the votes, we just want corporate sponsors."

When asked whether they are okay with the top officials being changed in case of a corporate takeover the fan stated, "If that needs to be done, then so be it. If the corporate organizations want that, then we are fine with it. We just want corporate sponsors and complete development of the club. Our only want is that the dirty politics be gone from the club and the corporate takeover to take us in a new direction."

It seems like times are changing for Mohun Bagan, who will need to revamp their management to please their fans. While talks are ongoing with corporate sponsors, unless a big corporate takeover (like East Bengal's) takes place for the Mariners, it could spell even more protests and agitations from the fans.

Published: Wed Jul 18, 2018 02:50 PM IST

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