The budgetary woes of the Kolkata clubs this transfer season have been hidden from nobody. With the chit funds goingbust and several of the principle sponsors facing a hard-time, teams have had to control their extravagant spending.
A case in point being East Bengal, who revealed on Thursday, that they had asked their players to take a pay-cut, as they had been forced to reduce their budget.
While several reports indicated that this was due to the current financial issues faced by United Breweries (UB), the group’s representative at East Bengal, Amit Sen, quashed such rumours. He told Goal, “I will explain the situation briefly. For the last so many years, since payments (for players) skyrocketed, we (UB group) always pay a certain amount, and over the 5 years or so, if for example, we pay 80% of their budget, the rest was being bridged by the East Bengal management. So I can categorically say that there has been no change in the pattern of United Breweries’ sponsorship of the football team.”
“All these years, these other funds groups had tied up with East Bengal to gain visibility. First it was Saradha Chit Funds and then Rose Valley, who were supposed to continue this year, but I don’t see that happening now,” Sen continued.
“Thus, I suggested they work on their budget. As it is, the market did not deserve such payments, and our level (Indian football) has not reached such professional levels where our income would be able to bridge the gap. Even the prize money is not paid on time. So why would a club like to increase its debit size, when the credit size is a big question mark? This has now dawned on the management, and the chit fund scams have shown that the honeymoon could no longer last (of excessive payments),” added the East Bengal Director.
While Goal revealed that players had been asked to submit a letter, which would have seen them take a 40 to 50% pay-cut on their present salaries, the UB official tried to deny such claims. He stated, “No that (players taking 40 to 50% pay-cut) is not true. It iss not a huge paycut, I have got the list with me. It’s a very reasonable paycut and I don’t think anyone has been affected (too much).“
“They were going for the moon, now they are in orbit. If it was a huge pay-cut, nobody is so much in love with the team, that they will stick around. It is a very reasonable cut,” he mentioned to Goal.
“For example, Lalrindika Ralte, who is a 21 year old player, was signed with the club for a fee of around 60 lakhs after one good year at Churchill Brothers. His contract entailed that he shall receive a 25% hike in fee in the second year. So what we have done is that we have put a halt at that, and have said, let’s have a look at the market. Is it worth it and has he been able to give that kind of a service? So it's as simple as that,” Sen further added.
The East Bengal Director also hinted that huge, inflated salaries may be a thing of the past, as the clubs look to get in line with the licensing norms.
"The clubs have formed the I-League Professional Football Club Association (IPFCA), and we have categorically said that we will go by Asian Football Confederation (AFC) norms, and after 2014 we will not be allowed to spend more than 70% of our budget on player wages, which had spiraled to 85 to 88% at the moment, which will change. That money will be pulled back into junior development, which has been neglected,” he concluded.
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