EX MOHUN BAGAN player and coach, the leader of the consortium that fought against the ruling group of officials in the Mohun Bagan club elections back in May, Subrata Bhattacharya, has come out with an explosive statement regarding the U-23 player related debacle that unfolded after the match between Mohun Bagan and Tollygunge Agragami. In an interview with the Bengali newspaper Ei Samay, he the incident was pre-planned, and orchestrated by both clubs to create an ambiguous outcome of the match that might strategically come in handy later on.
"During the Mohun Bagan club elections somebody from Tollygunge supported the officials who are now in power. This is returning the favour. Everything was decided beforehand."
Bhattacharya was, of course, referring to the controversy that arose when Mohun Bagan coach substituted Azharuddin Mallick in the 90th minute, leaving no officially registered Under-23 player on the pitch. The rules of Calcutta Football League make it mandatory for every club to have at least one U-23 player on the field at all times.
The West Bengal football governing body IFA are yet to take a final decision on this matter. They are supposed to hold a full board meeting to discuss the matter and arrive at a conclusion. If found guilty, Mohun Bagan will be stripped off the 3 points they earned from this match, which will be awarded to Tollygunge Agragami. This meeting will take place towards the end of the CFL student or after its conclusion. Pointing this out, Subrata said,
"The situation is, if Tollygunge are threatened with relegation they can get the 3 points. And if Mohun Bagan have a chance to win the CFL they will get the 3 points."
Chatter at the Mohun Bagan tent suggests that the Mohun Bagan team manager for the day, ex player Bidesh Bose, is blamed for the incident. This may result in him losing any future opportunity to with the team on managerial duty. According to Subrata, this shows how little respect the current Mohun Bagan officials have for ex players,
"They were brought on board to defeat me in the club elections. Now that is done, so they can be sacked now."
Subrata, who remained at Mohun Bagan throughout his playing career (489 total appearances, including winning the Treble as captain in 1977, plus 41 caps for India) then won them two National Football League titles as coach, has long been vocal about corruption in Kolkata football including at Mohun Bagan. Last season, when he was coaching Tollygunge Agragami, the club emerged as the dark horse in a three-way CFL title race that went on till the very last game of the league, with East Bengal coming out on top. But Subrata is not convinced by that outcome,
"We lost to East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. In both matches, a penalty made the difference. Both those penalties were highly doubtful. After we lost to Mohun Bagan, the Tollygunge officials remained silent, didn't complain. That favour had to be returned this season."
These statements by Subrata will surely fuel the rumours already circulating around the Maidan, which allege that Tollygunge Agragami are being given undue advantage in the CFL due to being the club of the state's sports minister Arup Biswas. No stranger to courting controversy, Subrata said he can't stay silent because of his love for football and Mohun Bagan,
"I feel bad for Mohun Bagan. A lot of people are responsible for this mishap, including the coach and officials. Maybe the manager, Bidesh Bose, made a mistake, but what were the coach and assistant doing?"
You can read the entire interview here.