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FIFA transfer ban -- Kerala Blasters quick to respond, East Bengal still in deep dilemma

TWO INDIAN CLUBS hit by the FIFA transfer ban, Kerala Blasters and East Bengal, are in two very different situations when it comes to rectify the situation.

Earlier this month, FIFA announced that both clubs would receive fines and a temporary ban on international transfers due to unpaid past dues. However, both clubs has the option to lift the ban immediately by paying the amount mandated by FIFA.

Kerala Blasters have moved quickly to solve the problem. They have reportedly paid off the amount and are waiting for the completion of the administrative process to officially lift the transfer ban. The club hinted as much in a social media post.

At East Bengal, however, things are a lot more complicated. The unpaid dues they got the transfer ban for stems from the time that they had a partnership with Quess. Towards the end of the 2019-20 season, when the I-League came to an end prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Quess invoked the 'force majeure' clause and left many of the salaries unpaid. Later, while returning the sporting rights of East Bengal to the club, they negotiated to transfer all outstanding liabilities to the club, including the responsibility for the unpaid wages. Later, East Bengal brought in Shree Cements Limited as their principal investors to fund their ISL debut, but the new investors refused to take responsibility for the past dues.

To make matters more complicated, the final agreement between East Bengal and their investors has not been signed. The club officials have raised objections to certain clauses in the contract, including the rights to the club's property, office premises and stadium. Some of the club officials even threatened to resign en masse if this deal was signed.

On the other hand, the investors led by Hari Mohan Bangur are not willing to compromise on the matter, and have threatened to pull out of the partnership with East Bengal if the existing deal is not signed.

While East Bengal have some time before the start of the next season of ISL to rectify this matter, the FIFA transfer ban has put them in added dilemma. The officials don't appear to have the money at hand to pay off the fines immediately, which means the only way for them to get the ban lifted is to sign the deal to source the funds; which is something the officials have so far refused to do.

The pressing nature of the transfer ban - the longer it stays the harder it makes for East Bengal to form a good team for the next season - has put the club officials at a disadvantage when it comes to negotiating a better deal with Shree Cements Limited or even bringing in a new investor.

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