Cementing her votes: Mamata backs East Bengal for ISL as Shree Cement buys majority stake in iconic club

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has backed East Bengal Club to become the 11th team to play in the ISL, even as the club was facing challenges in its centenary year to get an investor on board. Shree Cements have finally announced to step in as the investor for the club.

“Today East Bengal Club is celebrating 100 years. In the middle, there was an uncertainty. They were being deprived and Mohun Bagan has signed contracts. We did not want East Bengal to lose out, so today I say that East Bengal Club has invited us,” said Mamata Banerjee.

Press conference at Nabanna Sabhaghar নবান্ন সভাঘরে সাংবাদিক সম্মেলন #2

Posted by Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Arch-rivals Mohun Bagan Club which has been around for 131 years has already made it to the ISL after it’s tie-up with ATK backed by the RPG Sanjiv Goenka Group. BCCI President Sourav Ganguly too is one of the board of directors. The club has signed on players for the new team to gear up for the ISL under coach Antonio Habas.

“Bengal will show the way in football joining hands with big companies. It is a new day for football. Shree Cements has many businesses outside Bengal. Hopefully, in future they will invest in industries in Bengal too. In today’s times, no one is ready to spend in this pandemic. In this situation, they are coming forward and helping that is great,” added the West Bengal Chief Minister.

Press conference at Nabanna Sabhaghar নবান্ন সভাঘরে সাংবাদিক সম্মেলন

Posted by Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday, September 2, 2020

“We are proud to be associated with East Bengal. Without the Chief Minister’s intervention, this partnership would not have been possible,” said a spokesperson of Shree Cements.

Former Bangalore based investors Quess Corp Limited had pulled out their support after the club failed to perform well in the last season of the I-League and former coach Alejandro Menendez stepping down. Player contracts were also terminated from May 1st, ahead of the actual date using the Force Majeure clause. The club was in talks with a Singapore based investor thereafter.

Players were in fix and around seven players had written to the Players Status Committee (PSC), under the AIFF over dues which were not yet cleared. East Bengal Club, which is responsible to clear player dues despite not having an investor on board, was to reply to the PSC by September 4th. A big relief there for the club on this count too.

The club, however, was confident of playing in the ISL as Mamata had approached AIFF President Praful Patel in May to consider East Bengal Club as part of the ISL.

Left Front leader Sujan Chakraborty too had backed East Bengal Club. On the National level, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had tweeted to congratulate the club on its centenary year celebrations while recognizing their contribution to growth of sports in India.

A few months ago, East Bengal Assistant General Secretary Dr. Shanti Ranjan Dasgupta had called the league a masala league and said that it wasn't a proper league. "If you ask me personally, I am not interested in playing in the ISL," he said.

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