Shree Cement Limited (SCL) officially ended their topsy-turvy two-year association with East Bengal on Tuesday by handing back the sporting rights.
It was primarily due to efforts of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the Hari Mohan Bangur-owned cement conglomerate bought a majority stake of 76% in the beleaguered East Bengal to help them enter India Super League in 2020-21.
But the association did not go off well as the East Bengal executive committee, which is primarily run by Debabrata (Nitu) Sarkar refused to sign the final agreement, claiming discrepancies between the final agreement and initial term sheet.
Confirming the development, Shree Cement Ltd CEO Col Shibaji Samaddar told PTI: “Yes, Shree Cement has moved out of East Bengal after two seasons. The process to hand over the sporting rights was on for the last couple of days. They did not sign the final agreement and as per the term sheet the association was for two years, so it finally ended.”
After coming on board, Shree Cement had promised a long term association with the club but trouble started brewing before the second season regarding the term sheet.
It was once again at the behest of Mamata Banerjee, Shree Cement had agreed to continue for the last ISL edition where it went worse as they finished bottom of the table with just one win from 20 matches, which included 11 defeats and eight draws.
Under the Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler, East Bengal had a poor ninth place finish in their maiden ISL season with nine losses, eight draws and just three wins.
This was not the first time the club club management have found themselves in a logjam with their investors.
Before SCL, East Bengal also had a similar fate with their Bengaluru-based investors Quess Corp who too exited after a two-year association in a premature end to their three-year agreement.
EB in talks with Bashundhara Group A top East Bengal official also confirmed receiving the sporting rights back and said “we would formally announce the development on Wednesday”.
He further said they are in “talks with Bangladesh investors Bashundhara Group which owns Bangladeshi top tier club Bashundhara Kings.
Asked about their fate in the ISL, the top EB official said: “SCL may have exited but at the moment, we are not thinking beyond ISL… We are very hopeful of striking a deal with Bashundhara Group, but nothing is formalised as yet.” Recently the Bashundhara Group managing director Sobhan Anvir along with other officials were felicitated by the club.