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'We are shameless beggars': East Bengal officials on decision to crowdfund

In a peculiar and unique move, East Bengal FC official Debabrata Sarkar announced the club's desire to crowdfund resources from its red and gold brigade.

We are shameless beggars: East Bengal officials on decision to crowdfund

East Bengal official Debabrata Sarkar (second from right) announced the club's wish to crowdfund. (Screengrab: VOIF/Twitter)


Abon Gooptu

Updated: 21 Jun 2023 5:11 PM GMT

At a recent press conference organised by the Siliguri Journalists’ Club, East Bengal official Debabrata Sarkar revealed that East Bengal FC is well on its way to meet its target of ₹6 crores within one year.

He stated, “On behalf of the club, we have come to beg. We are beggars. We have no shame…We aim to collect Rs 6 crore through crowdfunding this season. We're confident of reaching the target & even going past it. We'll now go to Durgapur, Asansol, Tripura, Assam and even Bangladesh to collect funds."

Sarkar attempts to strum the emotional chords of Bangladeshis by re-iterating that the base of this club was formed by those ‘bangals’ who had made the journey from the ‘other side of the border’.

Previously, East Bengal had stated that they would be starting crowdfunding to raise money for the club’s youth program, sports development, infrastructure and even cricket development. East Bengal officials had stated that they are aware that the club is experiencing a tough period but it is temporary and that the club will definitely change its fortunes.

The Kolkata-based club felt that if the fans can get involved and feel the sadness and pain, they will be a partner on this journey. It was mentioned that this move sought inspiration from social media and suggestions of the fans online. East Bengal clarified that the resources would be monitored by the club’s audit firm.

At the time of this ‘open-hearted’ plea, the fund had not been approved by the club’s board and the officials were not sure if fans would donate. However, Sarkar’s recent comments suggest that the move is in fruition.

This is the first known public plea of its kind in Indian Football. Few East Bengal fans found it bizarre that a century-old football club with such rich legacy and history had no stable revenue system. Whereas other fans found it puzzling why the fans should simply give handouts? Instead, they suggested that clubs introduce revenue streams stemming from membership deals, fan engagements and sponsorship deals.

East Bengal ended the 2022-2023 Indian Super League in 9th position. East Bengal suffered defeat thirteen times throughout the course of the season and tasted victory only six times. The club looks to re-group and make a defiant comeback next season.

Former ISL winner and Bengaluru FC coach Carles Cuadrat has been roped in by East Bengal FC as its Head Coach in a two-year deal. Former Bengaluru FC player Dimas Delgado will join Cuadrat as East Bengal’s new assistant coach.

There is a sense of contradiction in East Bengal’s crowdfunding campaign. On one hand, the club has signed reinforcements in the shape of Kerala Blasters defender Nishu Kumar (on a one-year loan), former Odisha FC winger Nandhakumar Sarkar and Spaniard Borja Herrera. Additionally, The Bridge had reported that East Bengal is set to sign the ever-so versatile defender from Kerala Blasters, Harmanjot Singh Khabra.

Yet, on the other hand the heritage club has decided to crowdfund money. It will also be interesting to see if any of the other ISL clubs will object to this bold decision or possibly, even follow suit?

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