Kolkata: In a fresh setback for East Bengal, the player status committee of the All India Football Federation Saturday handed a transfer ban on the club over irregularities in their attempts to sign defender Sukhdev Singh from Minerva Punjab.
East Bengal, who were dethroned in the Calcutta Football League by arch-rivals Mohun Bagan recently, cannot register any new player till the end of the first transfer window next year.
Confirming the development, an AIFF official said Sukhdev, who now plies his trade for Mohun Bagan, has also been barred from playing any competitive match and must pay a fine of Rs 50,000 each to AIFF and Minerva Punjab.
Minerva Punjab co-owner Heena Singh said: "East Bengal approached a couple of Minerva players in April and forced them to hurriedly sign something which they claimed as 'draft contract' to show that the players are interested in joining East Bengal. They got the players to agree in that way and did not come to us to settle on a transfer fee.
"In Sukhdev's case, they dealt directly with the agent instead of us. The player was on a two-year contract with us and the only way they could approached was through us. They refuted when we tried to get into an agreement and in the meanwhile, an offer from Mohun Bagan was tabled. We discussed it with AIFF and put everything on record before going ahead with Mohun Bagan."
She said it was unfortunate that Sukhdev has also been thrown under the bus but "it does serve as an important warning for players to take their contract seriously".
CEO of East Bengal FC Sanjit Sen said they would go through the regulatory procedures.
"There is an appeal process in the system. We will discuss internally what needs to be done and will act accordingly," he said.