In an address on September 2, West Bengal Chief Minister said East Bengal will play the Indian Super League (ISL) from the upcoming season. The Chief Minister’s assertions follow a frantic 24 hours where rumours of the Red and Gold having secured a new investor, Shree Cement Ltd. catapulted to how the new investors were pushing for inclusion in the ISL.
"Mohun Bagan joined ISL after an arrangement but East Bengal were trying for a very long time to play the ISL amidst the pandemic and that will finally happen now," Banerjee said in a public address.
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While these statements bolster hope that the famed Kolkata outfit will garner an entry into the top league of the country — via what can perhaps be called a political entry — a lot of details still need to be ironed out. The new investors Shree Cement Limited have bought a majority stake in the club, and publicly expressed a desire to be part of the top league, but so far no Request for Proposal (RFP) has not been floated for the bid.
In public, though, the signs are all pointing towards the inevitable — a Bagan-East Bengal derby in the ISL. “We would not have reached this stage without the blessing of Didi. It is a new beginning of East Bengal. We will try that East Bengal will play in ISL this year,” Reliance official Tarun Jhunjhunwala said following the Chief Minister’s remarks. “There are some formalities which need to be completed. With East Bengal and Mohun Bagan together in ISL, this will be a new beginning of Indian football."
"We will now appeal to the ISL. There were some minor problems after our meeting which was held yesterday,” senior East Bengal official Debabrata Sarkar said during the event yesterday.
Future at Barca Bleak: Messi’s Father
Lionel Messi’s father arrived in Barcelona to talk to the club President Josep Maria Bartomeu on September 2. The conversations the club have publicly said are not about his release but in fact about an extension of his contract.
Footage of Jorge Messi suggested otherwise. In conversation with the TV station Cuatro as he was exiting the airport, Jorge is seen trying to say as little as possible and yet reveal a lot more than expected. When asked “How do you see his future at Barcelona?” Jorge replied, while he walked away,: “Difficult … difficult.”
Messi’s contractual dispute with Barcelona, the club he joined as a boy and has won 34 trophies with, is the story of the summer, despite the fact that very few clubs realistically have a chance of signing the Argentine maestro.
Jorge’s talks with Barcelona are in the hope of breaking a deadlock that suits no one. Messi could potentially walk away from the club, suitors could request FIFA to issue an International Transfer Certificate (ITC) pending a resolution of the dispute through the courts. FIFA may very well grant the certificate but the club he signs for risks being forced to pay the €700m buyout clause if the decision goes in Barcelona’s favour. Furthermore, there could be sanctions imposed.
Messi’s camp have claimed the €700m fee does not apply in his final season, and the league has come out in the club’s support — unsurprising seeing as losing Messi hurts everyone concerned.
Pitch for Five Subs in Premier League
The Premier League is in a deadlock over the use of five substitutes for the coming season, with the ‘Big Six’ pushing for the rule to be implemented at a shareholder meeting scheduled for later today. Smaller clubs opposed the rule and voted against it at the last meeting on August 6, when the matter was defeated 11-9. If new legislation is to be passed, it requires a two-thirds majority – in other words, 14 votes in favour.
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The nine clubs pushing for the five sub rule include Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal. The rule to permit five substitutes and larger match day squads was introduced when the league restarted in mid-June to allow clubs to better cope with the high number of matches in a relatively short space of time – and after a three-month hiatus because of Covid-19.
Smaller clubs are firmly opposed to the idea of five substitutions because of the advantage it gives clubs with bigger budgets and deeper squads. They have been arguing that it gives them a competitive advantage and allows them greater tactical flexibility within games.
Aside from the technicalities there is also anger at the precedent the decision might set, where big clubs land a decision they desired.
English Fixture Crisis
Non League sides in England have expressed fears of bigger clubs pulling out of fixtures citing a fear of Covid-19, with several cancellations in the last few days.
Non-League side Leicester Nirvana saw two clubs pull out of friendlies with them because of a local lockdown put in place in the city after a spike in Covid-19 cases. According to Nirvana's chairman Zak Hajat, two clubs pulled out of friendlies leading up to Tuesday's FA Cup extra preliminary round home tie with Oadby Town because they "didn't want to travel to Leicester or play a team from Leicester".
Hajat said both matches — one to be played at a neutral venue in Leicester with the other outside the city - were verbally agreed upon. "In one case both managers agreed the match but the chairman of the other team said 'no, we're not having a team from Leicester come to our ground'," said Hajat. "I've got an email from another team that says 'our management and committee don't want to come to play in Leicester because of local lockdown and Covid-19 reasons'.
With 182 ties due to take place in front of spectators this week, Nirvana are not the only non-league team who have encountered problems before the start of FA Cup qualifying. Surrey based Redhill and Northamptonshire side Burton Park Wanderers have both forfeited their FA Cup games due to Covid-19.
The situation puts non league clubs in a precarious position where they will not earn revenue (an accepted casualty) and not even get the game time to assure their players and staff salaries if the trend continues. The FA has so far not addressed the matter.
Chelsea Women Sign Harder
Chelsea Women have signed Danish international Pernille Harder from the Champions League finalists Wolfsburg for a fee believed to be around £300,000 — a world record in the women’s game. For comparison, the world record transfer in the men’s game is what PSG paid Barcelona for Neymar -- £198 million.
The 27-year-old is considered one of the best players in the world and was an integral part of the Wolfsburg team that reached the finals of the Women’s Champions League final.
“Taking into account the fact that we are dealing with a record transfer fee for the women’s game….. and that Pernille was only going to be with us for another 10 months and had just played in the UWCL finals tournament for us, we decided that this was a fair solution for all involved,” Wolfsburg Frauen’s sporting director, Ralf Kellermann said.
The signing is a huge coup for Chelsea and their manager, Emma Hayes, who have also brought in Bayern Munich captain Melanie Leupolz this summer, together with Niamh Charles from Liverpool and the Canada international Jessie Fleming from UCLA Bruins. In January, another of the world’s leading players, Sam Kerr, joined Chelsea in a landmark deal for the club.
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