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East Bengal officials refuse to sign final agreement with Shree Cement.

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East Bengal officials refuse to sign final agreement with Shree Cement.

The Kolkata-based club’s participation in the ISL is now more uncertain than ever.

East Bengal’s future participation in the Indian Super League looks like more uncertain after the club’s executive committee decided against signing the final agreement with investors Shree Cement. The club will not sign the agreement, the officials announced in a press release on July 16.

The executive committee of East Bengal met for an emergency meeting on Friday, July 16. They decided in favour of not signing the final agreement, terming it ‘disrespectful’ after a hour-long meeting at the club office. The release was signed by 24 club officials, who attended the emergency club meeting.

In its release, the club mentions East Bengal will not sign any agreement that dishonours its fans and club officials. The statement also alleged that the agreement threatens to take away the club’s authority over its logo, club name, ground as well as the club tent. The statement further added that the agreement has called the fans as “tresspassers” and will provide the power of prosecution against them.

A number of fans also gathered outside the East Bengal club on Friday and demanded Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, to intervene and help resolve the issue. The fans had gathered at least an hour before the 6 pm meeting, eyewitnesses said.

Everything that has happened so far

East Bengal and Shree Cement formed an association in 2020. Their agreement had made way for East Bengal to participate in India’s top-flight football league, ISL. Both parties had initially agreed to sign a similar agreement to start preparation for ISL 2021-22. However, the East Bengal club officials later became reluctant to sign the agreement citing various issues.

The club officials had reasoned they are not comfortable with certain clauses in the final agreement deal. But Friday’s meeting and the eventual press release sheds further cloud over the club’s participation in the ISL next season. The deadline for the agreement expired on May 31. However, with neither side looking to budge, the matter does not look to end any time soon.

East Bengal in Indian Super League

In their debut season in the ISL, East Bengal finished at the ninth spot in an 11-team league after winning just three games. They lost nine matches and drew the other eight. Under Robbie Fowler, the clubs struggled for goals and netted only 17 times, lowest in the league last season. They are yet to make a signing, whereas, overseas players such as Anthony Pilkington, Jacques Maghoma, Matti Steinmann and key domestic players have already exited from the club.