Even at the twilight of a disastrous debut Indian Super League (ISL) season, there seems to be no dearth of bad news for the SC East Bengal camp. According to several reports circulating in the media, the Kolkata giants may find themselves banned for the next two transfer windows owing to issues related to unpaid player dues from their 2019-20 I-League campaign. If the reports are to be believed, the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) Players Status Committee (PSC) has given the club till March 31 to clear all the dues, failing which the ban will come into effect.
It all began with the club’s erstwhile investors Quess Corp unilaterally terminating the contracts of four players in April last year by triggering the Force Majeure clause and citing the Coronavirus pandemic as the ‘unforeseen circumstance’ in this scenario. Following this, the players, Pintu Mahata, Gurwinder Singh, Abhas Thapa and Rakshit Dagar, appealed to the AIFF to look into the matter. It needs to be mentioned at this point that when East Bengal bought back its stakes from Quess Corp last year, they automatically accepted the liabilities as well.
According to a report published by The Telegraph, Mahata is the player who had the longest duration left on his contract and is therefore entitled to a massive figure of Rs. 8,66,666. For Gurwinder, the number is slightly lower at Rs. 6 lakh while Rakshit and Abhas together are owed a further Rs. 3 lakh. The report has also quoted an SC East Bengal official saying the club’s new investors, Shree Cements, are not liable to pay these players as their contract came into effect only in September 2020, much after the players’ contract had been terminated.
With matters on the field not going according to plan, the last thing that the Red and Golds needed right now is for a new issue to pop up. By now it has become extremely obvious that the team needs a massive rebuilding job in the summer to get back to a competitive frame-of-mind ahead of next season’s ISL. However, with the threat of a transfer ban looming large, those plans are now jeopardized. The Bridge tried to reach out to a club official but he was not available for comment. A long-drawn appeal against the decision might be the only way out from this for the club if the verdict is confirmed.