East Bengal transfer ban: All you need to know – Will Shree Cement clear Johnny Acosta’s dues?

East Bengal situation is more complex compared to that of Kerala Blasters due to the ongoing club vs investor deadlock…

Indian Super League (ISL) club East Bengal has received a letter from the global football body FIFA stating that the club has been banned from signing players in the upcoming transfer window. 

Other than East Bengal, fellow ISL side Kerala Blasters also have received a transfer ban for the non-payment of salary of their former player Matej Poplatnik.

The Red and Golds’ transfer ban comes at a time when the club is already marred with the controversy surrounding the ongoing tussle between the club officials and investor Shree Cement. 

The correspondence from the FIFA player status committee was made on June 1 and the AIFF has sent a letter to the current Shree Cement East Bengal management on June 7.

Why did East Bengal get a transfer ban? 

The Kolkata-based club has been served a ban by FIFA who has acted upon a complaint about unpaid salary by former player Johny Acosta.

Players can approach FIFA if they aren’t paid their wages on time and the global body is expected to intervene to get the issue resolved. 

Johnny Acosta East Bengal

How can East Bengal proceed after the transfer ban? 

East Bengal can solve the transfer ban issue by paying the dues to the player. The ban will be lifted immediately once the payment has been made and FIFA has confirmed the same. 

What next for East Bengal? 

Unlike Kerala Blasters, who just need to initiate the payment for Poplatnik, East Bengal’s problems are deep-rooted. With the ongoing controversy of investor vs club at East Bengal, investor Shree Cement has already taken the decision to not shell out any more money until the final agreement of the joint-venture between the club and the investor is signed by the club officials.

A source close to the Shree Cement team management has informed Goal, that as per the term sheet signed in September 2020, the new management is not legally bound to incur any liability of the club before September 1 so there is no question of paying off Acosta’s salary at the moment.

Costa Rican World Cupper Johny Acosta was signed during the former investor Quess Corp’s era in March 2020. The defender could play just one match in the I-League 2019/20 season against Real Kashmir as after that the league had to paused and then called off due to the outburst of the ongoing COVID-19 in the country and resulting nationwide lockdown.

The then Quess East Bengal management had unilaterally activated the force majeure clause on the contracts and the players were asked to sign a letter of termination in April. However, the players refused to accept the move and their salaries remained unpaid. Later the salaries for the month of April were cleared.

Goal has also learnt that liabilities that were incurred during the Quess era were transferred to the club during the separation of East Bengal and Quess Corp and thus Acosta’s salary dues will now have to be cleared by the club officials. The Shree Cement has accordingly forwarded the letter from FIFA to the club officials regarding Acosta’s salary dues.

Lalrehzuala, Odisha vs East Bengal

Will Shree Cement pay Johny Acosta’s salary dues if the final agreement is signed?

The Shree Cement management is not legally bound to pay the Costa Rican’s salary as it was a matter before September 1 2020. But a senior official of the Shree Cement team management has informed Goal that if the club officials sign the final agreement then the management may consider paying off the dues temporarily so that the transfer ban can be lifted and the team-building process for the upcoming 2020/21 season can finally start.

But the club officials need to repay the amount to Shree Cement within one month of them clearing Acosta’s dues beyond which interest will accrue till a year and after that also if they don’t pay then the instrument will follow as per law.

What is going on in East Bengal?

After Quess Corp parted ways with East Bengal in June 2020 after being the club’s investor for two seasons, Shree Cement came on board as their new investors which facilitated the club’s move to the Indian Super League (ISL).

They then proceeded to establish a joint venture named Shree Cement East Bengal Foundation, in which the cement giants held 76 per cent stakes while the club had 24.

After Shree Cement’s arrival, a term sheet was signed by both parties in September 2020 in the presence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who had played an important role in bringing the company on board as the club’s new investor.

Based on the term sheet, the club’s sporting rights as well all its assets and properties (including intellectual) were reportedly transferred to the newly formed joint venture between the two parties.

Even though the term sheet has been signed, a final binding agreement of the deal is yet to signed by the officials despite multiple reminders.

The club officials have remained firm on the claim that certain points in the final agreement are different from the term sheet that the parties had signed. The new management, on the other hand, claims otherwise. 

Shree Cement managing Hari Mohan Bangur also mentioned in the past that no meeting with the officials will take until they put pen to paper.

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