By Debayan Mukherjee
Kolkata, Feb 5 (IANS) East Bengal said that the club is trying its best to get Premier League giants Manchester United to play a pre-friendly against them. United have agreed to the match but their hefty appearance fee is making the Kolkata giants think twice about the move, according to the club’s executive committee member Debabrata Sarkar.
“We had a meeting today,” Debabrata Sarkar told IANS. “We are trying our best to make it happen and will see what all possibilities we can explore.”
East Bengal, as part of their centenary year celebrations, were interested in playing an exhibition match with the 20-time English champions at the Salt Lake Stadium in July this year.
“They are ready to play here, but their appearance fee is huge. I cannot tell the amount, but it is something we need to consider. We are not thinking about it now. We will take a call after May,” Sarkar said.
A four-member delegation from Manchester United, led by Director of Football Allan Dawson, met the red-and-gold club officials and West Bengal sports minister Aroop Biswas last year in November and were satisfied with the facilities.
But according to sources, an appearance fee of Rs 24 crore and added expenses which will sum up to a total of Rs 30 crore, is keeping East Bengal in two minds.
The red and gold side will be without a sponsor after this season as Bengaluru-based title sponsors, Quess Corp, are set to sever ties with them.
When contacted through e-mail, Manchester United did not confirm their participation.
East Bengal began their centenary celebrations last year in July with a march from Kolkata’s Kumartuli area to the club ground. A clutch of stars, including 1983 World Cup winning cricket captain Kapil Dev, were felicitated.