East Bengal Club has found a new investor in the Kolkata-based Emami Group. Amid speculations that the English football giant Manchester United could link up with the iconic Kolkata club, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met officials of East Bengal and the Emami Group on Wednesday and announced a new partnership.
"I had a small request to them (the Emami Group) if they could help East Bengal, since they have been a Kolkata-based industry and have never left Bengal. East Bengal Club has a strong brand value. The two parties will meet later and sort out the details," Banerjee said.
"Today, over a cup of tea, both the parties have agreed to the partnership. This paves the way for East Bengal's participation in the ISL," the Chief Minister added.
After Shree Cements returned the sporting rights to the Kolkata-based football club soon after the Indian Super League, earlier this year, the East Bengal Club officials were in conversation with several investors. But eventually the Chief Minister had to once again intervene.
"In Bengal, Didi (Banerjee) is the only Chief Minister who thinks about sports. I thank the Emami Group and we have decided to walk together in the future. We hope to improve the club's performance and make all football fans happy," East Bengal official Debabrata Sarkar said.
On behalf of Emami Group, Aditya Agarwal said, "We thank the Chief Minister for offering us a chance to be associated with such a top club. Emami has been associated with East Bengal and football since the 1990s and now we are getting a second chance. We hope that we will be able to meet the expectations."
East Bengal has had issues with investors in the past. The Quess Corp quit after two years and in 2020, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee helped the club find an investor in Shree Cement Limited, which paved the club’s way into the ISL in 2020-21 season.
The cement conglomerate bought a majority stake of 76 per cent, however, it was not a smooth ride as the club’s executive committee refused to sign the final agreement, claiming discrepancies in the initial term.
SC East Bengal hired Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler in its maiden ISL season, but ended the tournament with nine losses, eight draws and just three wins.
Despite dilly-dallying, Shree Cements continued its association with East Bengal, but the results in the ISL was abysmal yet again as the team finished at the bottom of the table with just one win from 20 matches - including 11 defeats and eight draws.
This time, however, the club officials have started the process of finding an investor early. Until recently, they were in regular conversation with Bangladesh’s Basundhara Group. But it never really worked out, forcing the East Bengal top brass to look for options.