AFTER A LONG WAIT, East Bengal have finally got their 'sporting rights' back from Quess Corp; their majority investors since 2018.
Over the last year or so, a slow-moving fallout saw the relationship between East Bengal officials and Quess Corp management worsen; as the club challenged for the I-League displaying remarkable consistency but ultimately fell short.
Signs of rift became clear when Quess sided with a group of I-League clubs in boycotting the Super Cup, and East Bengal officials publicly opposed the move; even petitioning AIFF for permission to field their own team called 'East Bengal President's XI.'
Over the last couple of months, there has been constant back-and-forth between East Bengal officials and Quess; with East Bengal seeking to sign a new investor in order to follow their arch rivals Mohun Bagan into the Indian Super League. A big hurdle in the process was the completion of formal separation from Quess, which owned the sole right to make and field football & cricket teams for East Bengal.
This morning, news broke that the club is in talks with Jakarta-based businessman Prasun Mukhopadhyay, who is interested to buy shares of the club's football team and help their efforts to play in the ISL; possibly in collaboration with the Salem Group. A number of state government owned companies are also in talks to become co-sponsors.
With the financial side seemingly in the process of being sorted out, East Bengal needed to speed things up by getting the No Objection Certificate from Quess. And that's what has happened this afternoon.
In the official termination of agreement document accessed by TFG, it says,
"The Board of Directors has considered, approved and noted execution of termination of the Share Subscription and Shareholder’s Agreement (“Agreement”) dated July 5, 2018 executed between Quess East Bengal FC Private Limited (“QEBFC”), East Bengal Club (“Club”) and the Company."
The process that was followed was this - East Bengal returned their 30% shares of the QEBFC company that they had built with Quess to manage their football team. In return, Quess gave the sporting rights back to East Bengal. According to the letter,
"- Club has agreed to sell, assign, transfer and deliver free and clear of all encumbrance 30% of shares held by Club’s nominees in QEBFC to the Company and its nominee, for an aggregate cash consideration of INR 1,000 (Indian Rupees One Thousand only), subject to the terms and conditions set out in the Termination Agreement.
- Revert of Club business to the Club from QEBFC
- Club’s nominee Directors resigned from the Board of QEBFC in terms of the Termination Agreement."
East Bengal have till 31st of July to formally sign new investors and clarify to AIFF the ownership structure of the new corporate entity that they will be playing as next season.
Whether the arrangements they make will be enough to get them into the ISL for the 2020-21 remains to be seen. But now that they have followed in the footsteps of Mohun Bagan, there is renewed hope that the popular Kolkata Derby will continue to be a part of the national football calendar; ensuring that there will be no gap in the century-old rivalry that has fuelled both clubs to newer heights.