ISL: After confirming participation in ISL, what are the challenges ahead for SC East Bengal?
A spokesperson of the Shree Cements confirmed at a press conference organized by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that East Bengal will be a part of the Hero Indian Super League.
A spokesperson of the Rajasthan-based manufacturer confirmed the development at a press conference organized by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that East Bengal will be taking part in the upcoming Hero Indian Super League. The chief minister of West Bengal, Mamta Banerjee was the catalyst again in unifying the two parties (East Bengal the club and Shree Cements the investors) ahead of the upcoming ISL.
Speaking to the media, Mamta Banerjee said, "East Bengal has played the ISL last year owing to Shree Cement. This time things were a bit uncertain until now because of which day before yesterday, I too became a bit hostile. Where will East Bengal fans go, I thought if they aren't able to play? I want Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and even Mohammedan Sporting to play (in the ISL) in the upcoming days. They have a brand value in global football."
She added: "I think EB fans are happy today. Even MB will be happy cause they want their opponents to play. There were many who called me to express their disappointment regarding the earlier situation."
East Bengal official Debabrata Sarkar said, "Didi (Banerjee) has always been with us. We were able to install floodlights at the club grounds because of her support. Just like last year, this year too Didi has helped us come out of a tough spot. We thank her and SCL. Khela hobe! (We will play in the ISL)."
It has been confirmed that the club will be taking part in the upcoming ISL season, but the road ahead seems more challenging than anything.
The transfer window closes in the next six days, and East Bengal will have to be quick, very quick in the transfer market. They will be going out to sign both domestic and international players as early as they can so that the club can have a squad that is ready to compete in the Indian Super League. Last year the club finished 9th in the league and had a disappointing season. The fans were in content because they knew their participation in the ISL was decided at the last moment Even though the club has confirmed participation in this season's ISL, the challenge of making a new team will be an uphill task, and they will have to make decisions that will in many ways determine the outcome of the season.
The club saw the departures of many key players such as Bright Enobakhare, Sarthak Guloi, Calum Woods, Narayan Das, Debajti Mazumdar, Anthony Pilkington, and many more. The good part is that the club has retained England and Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler as their head coach, and he will be eying to sign players that make a difference to the squad.
Even though Shree Cements has confirmed that they are signing the term sheet, there has been no official confirmation on the time they will be associated with the club. Is it till the next ISL season, or for a longer time? The club for now has sorted the participation for the next ISL, but the fans will be expecting a long-term investor who changes the fortunes of the club. The fans would want the support of an organization that takes them to a higher level and helps them compete for trophies. The fans won't be happy with just seeing their team participate. The teams that finished below SC East Bengal, i.e. Kerala Blasters and Odisha FC, have revamped their squad with new players, who will help them compete for a playoffs spot.
The club would be hoping that a repeat of last season can be avoided, but the fans also understand that the management has very little time to build a team.
Apart from rebuilding the squad, and competing for the playoffs, the management will have to win the hearts of the fans so that they back the club in the good and bad times. The fans have gone through a lot, and have protested openly regarding the tussle between the Shree Cements and the club. The fans to the very least will expect quality signings and an assurance that the club has a future plan for the upcoming years.
Where do you think will East Bengal finish in the upcoming ISL season?