Sports

Shree Cement to acquire iconic football club, East Bengal

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on September 02, 2020 Published on September 02, 2020

Kolkata’s iconic football club, East Bengal, has found a new investor in the Bangur-family controlled Shree Cement Ltd.

Kolkata-headquartered Shree Cement, amongst the country’s largest cement makers with an annual turnover of approximately ₹12,000 crore in FY20, will pick-up a majority stake of 76 per cent in the club.

The acquisition comes as a shot in the arm for East Bengal which now has a fair chance of entering the famed Indian Super League (ISL) for the 2020-21 season.

The league is likely to start around November this year.

“Yes, we have signed papers expressing our intent to acquire the East Bengal Football Club. Other legal formalities will now follow,” HM Bangur, Managing Director, Shree Cement Ltd, told BusinessLine.

While Bangur did not give an exact timeline of the closure of the deal, he said “East Bengal will play this year’s ISL” and all formalities are “expected to be over by that time”.

Long Term Play

According to him, the company has been a part of different corporate sporting events and found that “it was the right time” to invest in a “global sport like football”. The game is re-gaining popularity in India and a corporate touch will help it further.

Moreover, the investments will be made across the board that include revamping the club operations, if necessary, and in players. The club’s logo and jersey colours - it’s red and yellow pattern - will be retained.

According to Bangur, “one bad year” (the current pandemic-induced slowdown year) should not shake confidence in the future, especially the long term view.

“We are open to different investments in the club,” he added.

Previous Partnership

East Bengal’s previous joint venture with Quess Corp ended earlier this year after the latter pulled out. The club has since then been on the look-out for new investors.

Subsequently, fan pressure was mounting on the club officials after arch-rivals Mohun Bagan secured its ISL berth.

Rivalries between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan are considered folklore in the state’s football circles. In fact, rivalries between the two have been spun-off into storylines for a host of football-centric Bengali films.

Mohun Bagan, incidentally, has been acquired by Sanjiv Goenka’s RPSG Group’s three-time ISL winning team, ATK. The acquisition saw Mohun Bagan, now rechristened ATK Mohun Bagan, enter the ISL.

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Published on September 02, 2020
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