By Debayan Mukherjee
Kolkata, Feb 13 (IANS) India football fans excited at the prospect of watching English Premier League (EPL) giants Manchester United in action against East Bengal in a friendly in Kolkata may have to wait a little longer before a final decision is reached on the much-talked about encounter.
While East Bengal had earlier said that it was more a case of managing the financial side as the EPL club had made their keenness known to play the game, Manchester United officials have made it clear that nothing is confirmed at this stage from their end.
Speaking to IANS, Manchester United Corporate Communications Manager Greig Mailer said nothing has been confirmed as of now with regards to tour destinations for 2020.
“None of our tour destinations for 2020 have been confirmed at this stage. Any arrangements will be announced via official club channels once they have been finalised,” Mailer said.
But well-placed sources in East Bengal have said that contract negotiations are at the final stage and the organisers expect to complete the formalities by the end of February.
“There were many things in the contract that we negotiated on like it happens. We had a detailed discussion with Manchester United yesterday and we put forward our points. They will now get back to us by February 28 approximately. We expect to complete the formalities by then,” the source said told IANS.
East Bengal, who will be without current sponsors Quess Corp after the season, need sponsors to make it happen but club’s executive committee member Debabrata Sarkar had said before that the club is exploring all possibilities to ensure the fixture sees the light of the day in their centenary year.
Meanwhile, investors Quess, who are with the club till May 31 after which they will sever their ties, have removed their brand name from all East Bengal’s official social media handles. Both club officials and Quess remained silent when asked the reason.
On the field too, the team is struggling. For the first time since the 2009-10 season, East Bengal find themselves in relegation zone in a season wrecked by five defeats in their last six games.