East Bengal on Wednesday began sending the return contracts papers to their 20 newly recruited players which were held up due to the coronavirus-forced lockdown. "We have started sending the signed contract agreements beginning today. It was held up because of the current lockdown crisis," an East Bengal top official said.
Photocopies of contracts of two of the East Bengal recruits are in possession with PTI. Earlier, there were reports that the club are yet to return the contract of the players whom they had signed in the last couple of months for the upcoming 2020-21 season.
Rubbishing the reports, the East Bengal top official said: "A section in media are trying to misguide football lovers by spreading such speculation. Those who are writing this want to kill the sport in the country and they are doing it intentionally. It's purely their vested interest."
The players who have signed for East Bengal this season are Milan Singh, Mohammed Rafique, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Rino Anto, CK Vineeth, Vikas Saini, Pritam Singh, Anil Chavan, Girik Khosla, Sankar Roy, Keegan Pereira, Mohammed Irshad, Bikash Jairu, Cavin Lobo, Sehnaj Singh, Loken Meitei, Rafique Ali Sardar, Angousana Luwang, Gurtej Singh, Novin Gurung, Lalram Chullova, Balwant Singh. They have also retained the services of goalkeeper Mirshad Michu.
East Bengal have terminated their tie-up with Quess Corp who had a 70 per cent stake. Both the parties had a three-year deal but the Bengaluru-based investors exited in two years. There's little clarity on the exit strategy between the two parties and on whether the sporting rights, currently enjoyed by the joint venture, has been transferred back to the club.
This has led to further speculation that East Bengal may not be able to take part in Calcutta Football League and IFA Shield. The All India Football Federation also had asked East Bengal to clarify the ownership structure following Quess' exit to clear AFC's club licensing criteria.
"So, does that mean Quess will make a team and play? We have a fan base of more than 4 crore all over the world. Will they take it for granted. Everything will be sorted," the official asserted. The club is desperately looking for sponsors to follow their arch-rivals Mohun Bagan into joining the Indian Super League.