Calcutta Football League: East Bengal Set for Walkover and Title Win

Kolkata: In a big blow for the state of football in Bengal, the much-awaited Kolkata derby between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal in the local league on Wednesday is all set to be cancelled with organisers in no mood to shift the date.

The Indian Football Association on Tuesday said they’re not budging to Mohun Bagan’s demands of postponing the match, while the Mariners said they’re not turning up at the Kalyani Stadium on Wednesday, unless it’s deferred.

Should there be a walkover, East Bengal would be declared champions Calcutta Football League Premier Division champions for a record seventh successive time, an instance that had last happened in 1985 when Mohun Bagan did not turn up.

“Technically, they will be champions but the CFL tournament committee will take a call tomorrow. We have informed Mohun Bagan that the match cannot be postponed,” IFA secretary Utpal Ganguli said.

The prestigious match was slated to be held at the Kalyani Stadium in the outskirts with renovation process going on in city’s only venue Vivekanada Yuva Bharati Krirangan ahead of the next year’s U-17 World Cup.

However, the match was mired in controversy after a makeshift structure to enhance the capacity to 16,000 did not meet safety requirements and Mohun Bagan cited a shortfall in the tickets made available to their 6234 club members.

The Bengal governing body, Indian Football Association, however, said it was not an embarrassment.

“Not at all. Both the teams had agreed to play in Kalyani,” Ganguli shot back.

“We cannot spare more than 2000 tickets for them, as per their original suggestion of reserving 25% of all tickets for both clubs. We had planned for 16,000 spectators, but the temporary gallery was not satisfactory as per the safety requirements. We will not be able to defer the match beyond tomorrow.”

Mohun Bagan managing director Anjan Mitra maintained: “We are not turning up tomorrow. About eight of our players have not even seen Kalyani Stadium, how can we play without even a day’s practice?”

According to Mohun Bagan, it was verbally agreed that both clubs were to get 4,000 tickets each but a temporary structure to increase the capacity did not get the clearance and IFA later said they cannot spare more than 2,000 each.

“Now it’s impossible to meet the demand of our members,” Mitra wrote in his letter to IFA.

Mitra further said they suggested Mohun Bagan Stadium as an alternate venue but it did not get police permission.