There has been much hue and cry during the past few months over East Bengal's possible participation in the Indian Super League (ISL).
While some officials continued to claim that the Red and Golds are set to play in the top tier once again, there were lingering doubts about their induction in ISL.
On Saturday evening, Shanti Ranjan Dasgupta, assistant general secretary of East Bengal, criticized ISL and also hinted that it will be difficult for them to be a part of it next season due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
"We cannot say anything positive that we will play the ISL. Because of the lockdown, things have slowed down. We are trying but I cannot say that we will play the ISL with confidence at the moment. If you ask me personally I am not interested in playing ISL.
"It is not a proper league, It is a masala league, there are no promotion and relegation. When we went to Malaysia in October we raised all these points in front of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA representatives. They had promised that for five more years this will go on and then things will change," stated the official in an online chat show.
Dasgupta also lambasted ISL on the grounds of not producing enough domestic talent who would go on to play for the national team.
"Where is Indian football heading with ISL? Are we producing new talents? East Bengal and Mohun Bagan always produce players for India. I am sorry to say but that is not the case in ISL. We still believe that the way things happen in ISL, it is difficult for Indian football to progress. If it happens, then very well because we all want Indian football to grow," opined the renowned orthopedic surgeon.
Mohun Bagan's Debasish Dutta was also one of the panel members in the show and he did not let go of the opportunity to attack the East Bengal official with a tongue-in-cheek comment.
"It seems grapes are sour. On one hand, your club officials are requesting AIFF president (Praful Patel) to allow you to take part in the league (ISL) and on the other hand, you are calling it a ‘masala league’. I believe that even ISL has some shortcomings, and we can change those things once we enter the league. It is not possible to change things and fight from outside," stated the financial secretary of Mohun Bagan.
East Bengal is yet to win an I-League title whereas Mohun Bagan have two in their kitty. Alluring to this, Dutta added," I think only for the East Bengal fans, the club must play the I-League and win it at least once even if it is without Mohun Bagan. Otherwise, it will be very painful for them."
It is not yet known whether we are going to witness a Kolkata Derby in ISL next year but the banter between the two arch-rivals will continue.