ISL New Season: SC East Bengal and its players are staring at an uncertain future as its investor Shree Cement will need to furnish Rs 180 crore bank guarantee to the Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), Indian Super League’s (ISL) promoters by Monday. With two parties — the club and the investor — currently locked in a bitter battle over the signing of the final agreement, East Bengal’s future in ISL is in jeopardy.
“The investor will definitely need legal documents before giving the bank guarantee to FSDL. It’s not a matter of Rs 1 lakh or 2 lakh… It’s Rs 180 crore,” a source told The Telegraph.
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.
ISL New Season: 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. As per reports, Punjab FC is ISL’s standby in case the Kolkata-based club fail to come to an agreement.
“Will not be surprised if FSDL goes ahead with ISL 8 without East Bengal. If the agreement is not signed then Shree Cement is willing to give back the sporting rights to the club along with the liabilities as existed before September 1 last year (when it was Quess East Bengal) and also after Shree Cement took over,” the source told Telegraph.
ISL New Season: If Shree Cement does pull out, it will mean 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 that, coach Robbie Fowler and his assistant Rennedy Singh will also need to be paid by the club as they had signed two-year deals.
But the matter of transfer ban complicates the situation more. On Tuesday, FIFA slapped East Bengal with a transfer ban after Costa Rican player Jonny Acosta and Spaniard Jaime Santos Colado approached the world governing body for non-payment of salaries. FIFA sent a letter to the club asking it to clear the dues. Both the players were at the club when Quess was their investor.
ISL New Season: As per the letter, despite FIFA’s repeated invitations, the club failed to make a case in Jaime issue. “The Respondent, Sporting Club East Bengal, has to pay to the Claimant (Colado), the following amounts: $58,333 as outstanding remuneration plus five per cent interest per annum and $21,875 as compensation for breach of contract without just cause plus five per cent interest per annum,” the FIFA letter said.
Apart from Jaime and Acosta, Kassim Aidara also approached FIFA for non-payment of dues. Some Indian players including Eugenenson Lyngdoh and CK Vineeth have approached the AIFF over their non-payment of salaries.