The Football Players Association of India on Friday courted controversy when it shot off a letter to the AIFF and ISL, calling for East Bengal's inclusion in the top-tier league without the consent of its president Renedy Singh. In a letter addressed to All India Football Federation (AIFF) general secretary Kushal Das, which is also marked to ISL organisers Football Sports Development Ltd (FSDL), the association's general manager Cyrus Confectioner requested the concerned stakeholders to set aside their differences for a quick resolution of the matter.
"We the association sincerely urge you to include the East Bengal into the ISL without any hesitation or delay," FPAI general manager Cyrus Confectioner said in the letter. "It is rich in history and is one of the oldest and most premier clubs having a massive fan following, something which the sport needs for it to grow and thrive in India." Expressing his shock at being bypassed by his junior on such a sensitive matter, Renedy, a decorated former India mid-fielder, clarified that his body's job is only to support players and not clubs.
"I would like to take this opportunity to inform all that it is wrong to come out in support of any one particular club as we are only to support the players," Renedy said in his letter to the AIFF general secretary. "The clubs should settle their matters internally with the federation and FSDL regarding their participation in the ISL or any other league for that matter," the former player, who also captained the national team, added. "I was shocked to learn that he (Confectioner) had written such a letter without consulting me."
Confectioner's letter was in stark contrast to Renedy's. "All the powers that be in Indian football, should set aside all differences and include this side, whose contribution to Indian football cannot be quantified," Confectioner had written in his letter. Besides Renedy, the players' body includes prominent names such as India captain Sunil Chhetri and former India players Clifford Miranda and Abhishek Yadav, among others.
The development comes days after the FSDL made it clear in a meeting with club representatives that they would stick to the existing 10 teams in the 2020-21 season and would not be floating tenders for new outfits. Following their split with Quess Corp, the century-old club has already got its sporting rights back but is yet to find a new investor. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is also keen for the red-and-gold's foray into the ISL and the state government is helping out in roping in an investor.
Arch-rivals Mohun Bagan are set to debut in the ISL after their merger with ATK and it remains to be seen whether the top-tier league will see the much-anticipated Kolkata derby. East Bengal club has been grappling with financial woes following the premature pullout of its former investor Quess Corp, who were its title sponsors for two seasons. A number of its players are approaching the AIFF for getting their dues cleared.