On Thursday, the Indian Football Association (IFA) held a meeting with all the premier clubs to discuss the roadmap of the upcoming season of the Calcutta Football League (CFL) and we may not get to see a Kolkata Derby that usually is the season's first derby!
Indeed, as per sources, while all clubs including ATK Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting attended the meeting, one particular club was missing. Sources have confirmed to The Bridge that there was no representative from SC East Bengal at the meeting and, in fact, the IFA went ahead with the meeting nonetheless.
A representative from East Bengal was actually spotted till the start of the meeting on the premises but as soon as he was asked to sign on the attendance sheet, he fled the scene. As such, it almost seemed like the person did not want to identify himself as a representative of East Bengal and sign in for SC East Bengal.
Regardless, the meeting went ahead as planned and the future roadmap was discussed at length. The IFA had to cancel the 2020-21 season of CFL after delaying it multiple times owing to the outbreak of the Covid-19 Pandemic. There was no time window available for it to be held last season.
While the IFA wanted to propose a full-length regular season, ATK Mohun Bagan requested that the current scenario be taken into consideration. With the pandemic still at large, the country and the state still reeling under the knock-down effects of the second wave, there is a lot of uncertainty about the future.
The Green and Maroons have also got their continental tournament commitments, they are scheduled to play their AFC Cup matches in August which was initially supposed to be held in June. The eighth edition of ISL will also kick off in November 2021 for which the clubs would be required to enter the bio-bubble at least eight weeks prior.
Representatives of all premier clubs, except for East Bengal, at the IFA meeting (Photo: The Bridge)
That leaves only about a 50-day window for CFL. ATKMB proposed a shorter format of the league, similar to how the I-League was conducted last season, with all the clubs being divided into two groups. This will see the number of matches being reduced and hence, the tournament could be completed in the short window available.
ATK Mohun Bagan, last season's Indian Super League (ISL) runners up, were represented in the meeting by Debasish Dutta and Vinay Chopra in the meeting.
The IFA is looking to consider the proposal but will take confirmation from all participating clubs before coming to a decision. It certainly looks like we will have a curtailed format of CFL for the 2021-22 season.
East Bengal, themselves, have been engrossed in a battle over the final term sheet agreement with their investors Shree Cement and although reports have suggested that a resolution is likely soon, Thursday's developments certainly put a cloud over that.
There might be a slight chance that the Red and Golds will miss out on CFL and fans will be deprived of the season's first Kolkata Derby.