East Bengal to play ISL 2021: ‘Mamata wields her magic wand to break deadlock’

East Bengal will play in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2021.

East Bengal will play in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2021 as the deadlock between Shree Cement and the club finally ended after the mediation from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The announcement was made on Wednesday at Nabanna, West Bengal secretariat building, where the two parties came face-to-face in the presence of Banerjee.

“There was an air of uncertainty surrounding their future and even I became a bit hostile, but now the deadlock has been broken. Shree Cement will remain as investors and East Bengal will play ISL. Congratulations to all EB fans,” said Banerjee in a press conference on Monday.

“We want to play. There were some differences so we could not sign the agreement. But since you (Mamata Banerjee) have requested, we have decided that we will participate in ISL,” said Shree Cement representative SS Khandelwal.

Speaking to indianexpress.com, executive committee official Debabrata Sarkar, also known as ‘Nitu da’, said, “I always said East Bengal will play ISL but people did not take my word for it. This is the magic of our CM and she has wielded her magic wand. On her directive, Tarun Jhunjunwala and Biswa Majumder, both of them worked behind the scenes to break the deadlock.”

When asked if East Bengal will be able to make a formidable side in such a short time, Sarkar said, “Ajit Bandopadhay has already drafted a team. If Shree Cement wants then we can go ahead form a formidable team. But we will never interfere in their domain. We are ready to provide all help.”

East Bengal-Shree Cement deal: A timeline of events

In June 2020, Quess Corp made an exit as the investor of East Bengal, and Shree Cement was brought on board as an investor. Thereafter, a joint venture — Shree Cement East Bengal Foundation was formed with 76 percent stakes for the new investors while the club had 24 percent.

A term sheet was also signed in September 2020 by both the parties and according to it, the club’s sporting rights as well all its assets and properties (including intellectual) were reportedly transferred to the newly formed joint venture.

However, the final binding agreement of the deal took a lot of meetings and negotiations. Shree Cement had already sent a revised version of the final agreement to the club as well as to the West Bengal Chief Minister on August 16. East Bengal club executive members had refused to sign the final agreement with Shree Cement, claiming a discrepancy in the initial term sheet.

Finally, on Wednesday, Shree Cement Limited agreed to extend its partnership with East Bengal.

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