East Bengal have finally found an investor after months of speculations and uncertainty surrounding the club following the exit of Quess. Around the time when their fiercest rivals Mohun Bagan joined forces with Indian Super League club ATK to form ATK Mohun Bagan and enter the top-division league of the country, East Bengal had been working to survive. On Wednesday, it was announced that they had found an investor and were looking to still make it into the ISL.
Kolkata-based Shree Cement have acquired majority stakes in the club, and the centenary old club now has until 4th September to put pen to paper and announce the deal to have a shot at entering the Indian Super League (ISL) in the 2020-21 season.
Shree Cement, run by Benu Gopal Bangur is one of India’s premier cement makers and the 3rd largest cement brand in the country. They had an annual turnover of Rs 12175.62 crore in the financial year 2019-20 and was ranked 122 in the Economic Times’ list of India’s biggest companies.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held a press conference along with East Bengal and Shree Cement officials said "football without Bengal is not possible."
"This will show a new path to others. Really commendable of Shree Cements to come up and invest in football in such times. Hopefully there won't be any more difficulties for East Bengal in the future. We want Bengal to be best in everything. Bengal should always show the way. Really happy that East Bengal's problems are over and they can take part in the ISL," she said.
"Want to thank CM Mamata bannerjee. Hopefully we will be able to make Shree Cement East Bengal Club proud. East Bengal and Mohun Bagan will usher in new age in football and India," East Bengal official said.
Shamik Seth from Shree Cement also credited Mamata Banerjee for the deal coming through and said, "We are very proud to be associated with East Bengal."
"After getting the investor, we will appeal to play in the ISL. We will adhere to their system (rules). We (East Bengal) sat down with them last evening but all the issues were not solved, Mamata Banerjee was present and she herself helped iron out the details," East Bengal secretary Debabrata Sarkar said.
"This association with the cement company will be strong enough. All our success in the 100th year will be dedicated to Mamata Banerjee," said East Bengal general secretary Kalyan Majumdar.
East Bengal, who had been without an investor since June when the partnership with Quess fell apart, were on the lookout for a new investor ever since.
East Bengal were in advanced stages of negotiations with Singapore-based Universal Success Enterprises Limited owned by Kolkata-born NRI Prasoon Mukherjee, but a deal did not materialise.
There was mounting pressure from fans of the 'red and yellow', after arch-rivals Mohun Bagan having already joined the ISL after forming a new entity with three-time champions ATK.
The entry of East Bengal in ISL means the continuation of the 130-year-old rivalry with Mohun Bagan as the 'Kolkata derby' will be played in the Indian Super League' for the first time.
This season's ISL will likely be held between November to March with the concept of a bio-secure environment in place as all matches beig played at three venues in Goa - the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at Fatorda in Margao, the Tilak Nagar Stadium at Vasco da Gama and the GMC Athletic Stadium at Bambolim.