East Bengal, Emami contradict, tie-up impasse continues


East Bengal’s differences with Emami Group ahead of their potential tie-up was out in the open on Sunday after both parties issued contradictory statements as the century-old club’s future in the Indian Super League remained uncertain.

Moments after East Bengal issued a statement saying that a “social function” of the investor on July 1 was causing a delay in the tie-up, the Kolkata-based multinational conglomerate shot back saying their family engagement has “no bearing on the agreement”.

Blaming East Bengal for causing the delay in signing the agreement, an Emami Group spokesperson further said they understand the “urgency in team building ASAP”.

“Our personal family function, as referred to by the East Bengal Club in their press release issued today, has no bearing on the agreement/ development,” the Emami Group stated.

Earlier, East Bengal joint secretary Rupak Saha said their legal team has sent their suggestions to the Emami Group.
“They have a social function on July 1 and I hope that we will be able to sit down together and get it done as soon as possible,” Saha stated.

But later Emami Group spokesperson issued a release, saying: “In this context, we wish to state that we are a professional corporate entity and we understand the urgency of building the team ASAP. “We have received today (Sunday), East Bengal Club’s response with suggested inputs by their legal counsel.

“It will be sent to our legal team tomorrow for evaluation and ratification. We hope and expect to finalise the agreement as soon as possible should everything be in order.” It’s been close to a month now when West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced the “tie-up” between Emami Group and East Bengal but since then no agreement has been signed yet.

Among other things, Emami Group reportedly wants a majority stake of 80 per cent in the club. “I can’t disclose the details but there has not been any hurdle yet. We are hopeful of reaching an agreement,” Emami Group director Aditya Agarwal told PTI.

With the picture still not clear about their ISL participation in the upcoming season, the club’s team building has stopped midway after a handful of announcements. Midfielder Mobashir Rahman, who represented League Shield winners Jamshedpur FC, was the last to have joined the club.

On the team building, he said: “We will cross the bridge when it comes. We will go ahead only after we get a green signal.” The red-and-gold had two disastrous ISL seasons playing under the aegis of ‘SC East Bengal’. In their ISL debut in 2020-21, they finished ninth out of 11 teams, and in the last season they finished rock-bottom as their association with Shree Cement Ltd ended prematurely.

SCL had bought a majority stake of 76 per cent in the beleaguered East Bengal on September 2, 2020, to help them enter ISL in a last minute entry. But East Bengal’s association did not go off well as their executive committee refused to sign the final agreement, claiming discrepancies in the initial term leading to the investors’ pullout after the last season.

Before SCL, Quess Corp had bought a 70 per cent stake in East Bengal in 2018 but the relationship soured between the two entities and it lasted for two years before the Bengaluru-based group parted ways in June 2020.

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