Heavyweights SC East Bengal, who are engaged in a tussle with their investors Shree Cements over transfer of sporting rights, may face relegation if they pull out of the Calcutta Football League Premier Division, the state football body Indian Football Association (IFA) said on Monday.
With “no clarity” about SC East Bengal’s participation in the 14-team tournament slated to begin in August third week, IFA secretary Joydeep Mukherjee said as per the rulebook the red-and-gold brigade would be relegated to the lower division.
“We want football to resume, many players, officials are affected (by the pandemic). We don’t want to deprive any club and for one club CFL won’t stop,” Mukherjee told reporters after a meeting with club representatives where SCEB did not come, citing “personal inconvenience”.
It has been learnt that the club was given a seven-day notice to clear the air.
“Initially, we had decided to stop relegation but if competitions happen in all divisions, then there will be a relegation and the team which pulls out will be relegated to the lower division. It will be a big blow and there are chances that SCEB will face relegation.”
Representatives of 13 teams were present at the meeting.
“They (SCEB) have not yet specified that they’re not playing. We have mailed the fixture details to all the clubs including SCEB. We have also spoken to the club’s (executive) official Nitu Sarkar in personal capacity and he said they have no issues,” Mukherjee said.
SCEB club management are at loggerheads with their investors Shree Cements over the transfer of sporting rights, something that has also hampered their team building for the upcoming season as their participation in top-tier Indian Super League is also not clear.
Welcoming SCEB to participate in the CFL, the IFA secretary further said they are even ready to negotiate between the two parties to “iron out their differences”.
“For the interest of Bengal football, we want all the clubs to play. From our side, there will be no problem, IFA is ready to negotiate but they must come to us,” he said.
The CFL, which was cancelled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will have a rejigged format in a league-cum-knockout basis.
Fourteen teams will be divided into two groups and the top three from each group will earn a direct quarter-final berth.
The remaining eight will then play with each other and the top two would complete the last-eight teams and the tournament is likely to get over by the first week of October.
This year clubs would be able to register six foreigner players but only two would be allowed in the first eleven, Mukherjee said.
Group 1: SC East Bengal, Bhawanipore Club, Southern Samity, Mohammedan Sporting, BSS Sporting Club, Railways FC and United SC.
Group 2: ATK Mohun Bagan FC, Aryan Club, Tollygunge Agragami, George Telegraph, Peerless SC, Kidderpore SC and Calcutta Customs Club.