Indian Super League
City-based Emami Limited will be East Bengal’s new investor, the club’s third in four years. Once the deal is finalised, it will clear the way for East Bengal’s participation in the Indian Super League (ISL).
Previous investors Quess Corp (2018-20) and Shree Cement (2020-22) parted ways owing to differences.
Once again, it’s chief minister Mamata Banerjee — she had announced Shree Cement as the club’s investor in September 2020, paving the way for a last-minute ISL entry — who broke the news in Nabanna on Wednesday, flanked by representatives of the club and the new investors.
“Both the parties agreed to join hands. This means doubts over East Bengal’s continuing participation in the ISL is no longer there. That problem has been solved,” she said.
“We will once again thank Didi for helping us. She has been our strength throghout. I would like to thank the Emami Group. We will work in tandem,” senior East Bengal official Debabrata Sarkar said.
“It is a great moment of pride for us to forge a relationship with an iconic football club like East Bengal. We hope that together with them, we will continue to offer football lovers the best standards of the sport,” Aditya Agarwal, director, Emami Group, said in a statement.
East Bengal were scouting for an investor after its tumultuous two-year tie-up with Shree Cement ended last month. “The proposal came in the first week of May and we decided to take the plunge since the club has a legacy. We are from Calcutta and we know what the name East Bengal means,” Manish Goenka, one of the Emami Group directors, told The Telegraph from Chicago.
Both Sarkar and Goenka sounded confident that there would not be any problem regarding division of power when the final deal is signed.
However, there’s a transfer ban on SC East Bengal, the name and entity under which the club played in their first two seasons of the ISL, for non-payment of salaries to some of the players. “The ban has to be cleared as early as possible,” a source said.
Emami, founded by RS Agarwal and RS Goenka, has a market capitalisation of around Rs 18,000 crore, which is much lesser than Shree Cement’s around Rs 76,500 crore.
However, analysts feel Emami will have a better connect than Hari Mohan Bangur’s Shree Cement as almost all of their products are consumer facing. “May be that has been one of the factors for them to come on board,” a source said.
East Bengal finished last in 2021-22 ISL and ninth of 11 teams in the 2021-21 season.