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How Mamata Banerjee, Sourav Ganguly helped East Bengal ink deal with Shree Cement

A senior East Bengal official speaks about how the club managed to find a new investor and keep the club's hopes alive of contesting in the Indian Super League.

east bengal, east bengal isl, indian super league, east bengal football club, east bengal mamata banerjee, sourav gangulyEast Bengal's arch rivals Mohun Bagan are already in the ISL thanks to a tie-up with ATK. (Source: File)

In its centenary year, East Bengal seemed set for a dramatic entry into the Indian Super League 2020-21 season after inking a deal on Wednesday with a new investor Shree Cement.

Senior East Bengal official Debabrata Sarkar told indianexpress.com that overcoming the hurdles to finding a new investor was only possible due to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

“It was the CM who called us and told us that if Mohun Bagan is in ISL then it is impossible that East Bengal will be left behind. She always gave us hope and always kept telling us not to worry. We will now make an appeal to play in the ISL,” Sarkar said.

He said that East Bengal club officials had held discussions regarding competing in this year’s ISL but “a few problems” prevented an agreement on a deal.

“When ‘Didi’ (Banerjee) came into the picture she helped us fix these problems and we’ll move forward to ensure our place in the ISL,” he said.

East Bengal’s turbulent ride for a new investor began after former investor Quess parted ways with the club at the end of last season’s I-League The club’s talks with Sanjiv Goenka’s ATK and Singapore-based USEL fell through.

But in August, Sarkar said it was Banerjee who brought subsequent sponsor Shree Cement and East Bengal together to work out a deal.

Ganguly’s role

East Bengal’s arch-rivals Mohun Bagan are already in the ISL thanks to a tie-up with ATK that is backed by RPG Sanjiv Goenka Group.

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Sarkar also thanked BCCI President Sourav Ganguly, who is on the board of directors of ATK-Mohun Bagan, for his help in finding a new investor.

“Dada (Ganguly) gave mental support. He guided us with the nitty-gritty and kept telling us to go to Didi and explain the situation to her and always stood beside us during the tough times,” Sarkar said.

“But we were always in the fight and knew that if persisted till the end then the match can be won even in the last moment,  and that is what we did. This victory is all for all our fans and the club,” he said.

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Following the path of Mohun Bagan, East Bengal has reportedly sold a majority stake to their new investors but Sarkar was unwilling to go into the details and said everything will be revealed in the coming days.

Speaking at a press conference, the West Bengal chief minister said it was ” a historic step for East Bengal” and hoped that the club could now “take a step forward to playing in the ISL.”

“I’ve spoken to Praful (Patel) of the All India Football Federation and have made my own plea to allow them to play in the ISL,” Banerjee said.

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First published on: 02-09-2020 at 10:04:39 pm
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