East Bengal Club felicitate Bashundhara MD Sayem Sobhan Anvir: An Indo-Bangla alliance on the cards for ISL?
East Bengal Club accorded a grand reception and lifetime membership to Bangladeshi business tycoon Sayem Sobhan Anvir on the club lawn on Thursday.
Mr. Sobhan Anvir is the managing director of Bashundhara Group, a leading Bangladeshi conglomerate, and chairman of Sheikh Russell Krira Chakra Limited.
His company also owns Bashundhara Kings, which featured in the same group as ATK Mohun Bagan FC in the previous edition of the AFC Cup. Both Sheikh Russell KC and Bashundhara Kings are part of the Bangladesh Premier League, the country’s top-flight football tournament.
The event was noteworthy in light of some recent reports claiming that East Bengal’s current investor, the Bangur family-helmed Shree Cement Limited, will cease to patronize the club’s football operations after the completion of the ongoing edition of the Indian Super League.
In an abysmal season, the Red and Gold Brigade’s ISL avatar, SC East Bengal, are mired at the bottom of the ISL table with only 10 points from 18 matches. They’ll play their last match against Bengaluru FC on March 5.
Despite several speculations doing the rounds, Shree Cement are yet to make any official announcement regarding the status of their association with East Bengal. The club, therefore, cannot rope in a new investor until they get the sporting rights back from Shree Cement.
“East Bengal is like my own club, I would love to patronize the team if needed” – Sayem Sobhan Anvir
Mr. Sobhan Anvir’s wife and Director of the Bashundhara Group, Sabrina Sobhan, was also present on the occasion. The couple were presented with the club’s jerseys, shawls, fruits, sweets, traditional kurta, saree, membership kit and a specially minted gold coin by top East Bengal officials Debabrata Sarkar, Kalyan Majumdar and Rupak Saha.
AIFF senior vice-president Subrata Dutta, East Bengal vice-president Santi Ranjan Dasgupta, Bangladesh Football Federation vice-president Md Imrul Hassan and other top officials of Bashundhara Group attended the event as well.
Later, they were all joined by former East Bengal footballers Monoranjan Bhattacharya, Bikash Panji, Samaresh Chowdhury, Aloke Mukherjee, Bhaskar Ganguly, Atanu Bhattacharya, Mehtab Hossain, Syed Rahim Nabi and Alvito D’Cunha for a photograph.
Mr. Sobhan Anvir was overwhelmed with the kind of reception he got from the century-old club. He said:
“I always consider East Bengal my own club. You’ve not just impressed me with your love and warmth; you’ve bought me. I didn’t expect that you would welcome me in such a well-organized manner. I’ll soon invite East Bengal to play a friendly match against Sheikh Russell KC in Bangladesh. I’ll sponsor the match.”
Mr. Sobhan Anvir added that he is willing to “patronize” East Bengal Club if needed, stating:
“There’s a political border that separates Bangladesh from West Bengal, but I believe that we both belong to the same Bangla. I would love to patronize East Bengal Club if required.”