Bhaichung Bhutia expresses solidarity with East Bengal fans, hopes Club vs Investor deadlock ends soon

Bhaichung Bhutia, East Bengal fansGetty Images

Legendary Indian footballer and former national team captain Bhaichung Bhutia showed solidarity with East Bengal fans and hoped that the ongoing deadlock between the club and their investor Shree Cement ends soon.

On Saturday, Bhutia took social media to extend his support for the East Bengal fans where he wrote, "I stand with East Bengal fans. It's sad to see what is happening to my club East Bengal. The club belongs to the fans and their Legacy. I hope things are resolved soon and the club is back to its Glory days."

Why did the East Bengal fans protest and what happened at the rally

A section of East Bengal fans had gathered near the club premise last Wednesday with banners as they raised slogans against the club officials in a peaceful manner. They demanding the officials to sign the final agreement with the investor.

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But the peaceful protest suddenly turned violent and the police lathi-charged to disperse the protesting crowd to maintain law and order. A couple of fans were injured while three or four fans were arrested, as per the police statement. 

Another section of fans backing the club officials was also present at the venue and they urged them not to give into the investors' demands.

The club officials condemned the fans' gesture and suggested that it brought a bad name to the club. They further stated that the final agreement can only be signed after the club and the investor meet each other to discuss the contentious clauses, which the officials feel are different from that of the term sheet which was signed back in September 2020.

East Bengal fan protestGoal/Ritabrata Banerjee

What did the Police say about the fans protest which turned violent?

Describing the incident, a senior police officer said, "We patiently waited as two sets of fans protested. But after some time things went out of hand as the crowd turned mob so we had to charge and disperse them. No lathi-charge happened. Three or four people have been arrested and action will be taken against them."

What is going on at East Bengal?

After Quess Corp parted ways with East Bengal in June 2020 after being the club's investor for two seasons, Shree Cement came on board as their new investor which facilitated the club's move to the Indian Super League (ISL).

They then proceeded to establish a joint venture named Shree Cement East Bengal Foundation, in which the cement giants held 76 per cent stakes while the club had 24.

After Shree Cement's arrival, a term sheet was signed by both parties in September 2020 in the presence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who had played an important role in bringing the company on board as the club's new investor.

Based on the term sheet, the club’s sporting rights as well all its assets and properties (including intellectual) were reportedly transferred to the newly formed joint venture between the two parties.

Even though the term sheet has been signed, a final binding agreement of the deal is yet to be signed by the officials despite multiple reminders.

The club officials have remained firm on the claim that certain points in the final agreement are different from the term sheet that the parties had signed. The new management, on the other hand, claims otherwise.