The player status committee of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has handed a transfer ban on East Bengal over irregularities in their attempts to sign defender Sukhdev Singh from Minerva Punjab.
The committee found East Bengal guilty of acting in a manner which has breached the terms of Sukhdev's then subsisting contract with Minerva Punjab. As a result, the committee has imposed a complete prohibition on registering any new player until the expiry of the second transfer window following the date on which the breach became effective, being till the end of the first transfer window in 2019.
Sukhdev Singh has also been banned from playing any competitive match and also must pay a fine of Rs 50,000 each to AIFF and Minerva Punjab, Goal can confirm.
When Goal contacted Henna Singh, co-owner of Minerva Punjab she explained that "East Bengal approached a couple of Minerva player in April and forced them to hurriedly sign something which they claimed as 'draft contract', to show that the players are interested in joining East Bengal. It was not a formal looking document. They got the players to agree in that way and did not come to us to settle on a transfer fee. In fact, when we tried to get in touch with them they refused and said they will only get in touch with the agent.
"In Sukhdev's case, they decided to go rogue and dealt directly with the agent instead of us. The player was on a two-year contract with us and the only way they could approached was through us. They refuted when we tried to get into an agreement and in the meanwhile, an offer from Mohun Bagan was tabled. We discussed it with AIFF and put everything on record before going ahead with Mohun Bagan. It is unfortunate that Sukhdev has also been thrown under the bus. But it does serve as an important warning for players to take their contract seriously."
East Bengal are in a fix after the transfer ban as the club cannot sign reinforcements before I-League.
"We will go through the regulatory procedures. There is an appeal process in the system. We will discuss internally what needs to be done and will act accordingly," said Sanjit Sen, CEO of Quess East Bengal FC.