Bagan sign ‘contract’ with Rennedy
Reunion brought forward
Rennedy to train in England
Report on Cristopher confusing

Calcutta, Aug. 7 
The Dipendu Biswas saga is being replayed, with a different name — Rennedy Singh.

Just before Rennedy moved over to the national camp (on June 23) in Patiala for the England tour in July, Mohun Bagan approached East Bengal’s Rennedy and got a verbal consent that on his return he would join the green-maroon squad.

On Friday Mohun Bagan “signed up” the East Bengal player and took his token (No. 766). Today, at a press conference, the club announced that the player was theirs. Rennedy has also sent letters to East Bengal, the Indian Football Association (IFA) and to the sponsors, the UB Group, informing them of the “transfer”.

Too many slips, however, remain between the cup and the lip. According to a tripartite agreement (between Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and the UB Group people), the clubs are not allowed to snatch players. If a player has to take transfer, there is also a Rs 10 lakh transfer-fee clause. All that is if the releasing club provides a no objection certificate to the transferee.

Mohun Bagan secretary Anjan Mitra proclaimed that this was a sort of trade-off. “We released Dipendu Biswas to East Bengal, and now East Bengal should reciprocate with the same gesture,” he said.

Easier said that done, though. “This is absurd. There is no way we are going to release the player,” asserted East Bengal assistant secretary Dipak Das. “He was on the list of players of the club, he still is on the overall roll. We are thinking of our team, not of any draconian plot by Mohun Bagan.”

Hereafter, it gets funnier. “There is no comparison whatsover with this (Rennedy Singh) issue and the Dipendu Biswas issue,” Das said. “With Dipendu, we had done our deal on the fourth-fifth of the month, and the meeting with the UB Group was on the 12th, where the restriction on snatching players was imposed. The Rennedy Singh case is stupid.”

This brings back recent Luis Figo memories. The problem is that the player in question is not even a Chima Okerie or a Bhaichung Bhutia. His preformance in England was mediocre, to be modest. His performance in Calcutta has not really been spoken about of late.

Interestingly, even Rennedy concedes that he decided to change because: “East Bengal were not showing enough interest” in signing him up before he left for England. And not that Mohun Bagan, rudderless that the team is now, will not be able to survive without the services of one Rennedy Singh.

But the fight must go on.

“This is nothing against our sponsors,” said Mitra (Mohun Bagan still have to call the UB Group their ‘sponsors’ and not their ‘company’ like East Bengal can because of a melange of court cases that stall the change), “but this is an issue that we need settled.”

All letters (to East Bengal club, to the IFA and to UB) have been delivered today. Mitra feels that is enough precaution, and that he has signed the player up for a contract (no payment made yet, he said). Unfortunately, while the IFA rule of the token has been adhered to, the tripartite areement rfemains unfulfilled.

Hence the entire “contract” could be null and void. The players cannot join another team before being released by the original club. And that is simple logic.

In a letter to Mohun Bagan the UB group representative has made it amply clear that the transfer is okay “if all the other statutory angles are okay.”

Considering the fact that in the beginning of the current season Mohun Bagan had to virtually beg for dole from UB, this is hardly the best deal Bagan have for the company today. The issue promises to get murkier in the coming days.    

Calcutta, Aug. 7 
Long Island, not Tashkent, will host the Great Indian Reunion the week before the US Open.

Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi had earlier decided to resume their partnership on the ATP Tour at the President’s Cup in Tashkent (September 11-17). Now, the 1999 doubles supremos will be back as a team at the Hamlet Cup (beginning August 21).

With Paes changing his mind on playing the US Open singles qualifiers and Bhupathi’s current partner Mark Knowles deciding to have a shot there, there was no problem for the doubles experts to bring forward their reunion by three weeks. At the US Open, however, they will still be playing with different partners — Paes probably with Jan Siemerink and Bhupathi with Knowles.

Having fitted in the Hamlet Cup on their schedule, Paes and Bhupathi could now stay away from the Tashkent meet as it’s too close to the Sydney Olympics.

“I have suggested they pull out of Tashkent which ends on September 17, just a day before the Olympic tennis event starts,” said Dr Vece Paes. “The Olympic opening ceremony would have been over by then and if the two make the Tashkent final, there’s no way they can be in Sydney by Monday. So it’s better for them to avoid playing Tashkent.”

That makes sense, especially as the two would be getting some match practice before that, anyway, in Long Island.    

Calcutta, Aug. 7 
East Bengal’s Rennedy Singh has earned one small dividend from his tour of England with the Indian team: a month-long training in October.

“This is no trial,” said Rennedy today, “but a sort of training session that coach Ranjan Chowdhury has promised.” Chowdhury is a coach with a junior Arsenal side there. I.M. Vijayan was also given this offer, but the Kerala star has turned it down.

Rennedy said the exact dates and place were to be known later, but if he manages to change to Mohun Bagan this year, he will have a contract that will allow him a month’s leave during that period.

Gold for Bengal

Karishma Mullick won the fin category gold for the state at the 18th junior national taekwondo meet in Chennai recently, accordng to information provided by the Bengal Taekwondo Association. Rina Gurung won flyweight silver, and Arpita Kundu and Dola Sarkar won bronze in bantamweight and light welterweight.    

Saturday was a new kind of experience for the patrons of the Calcutta races. The event in question was the all important Fillies Stakes which raked off a major controversy. Although, the winner, Allaying and her rider S. Rabani, could be given a clean chit, the same could not be said about the two runners-up —Cristopher Alford on the half-money favourite Aracruz, and Ravinder Singh partnering Alvarada who was next in the betting.

It all started in the final 300m of the race when the public fancy and the second favourite were seen shifting in-and-out with Cristopher hardly trying to take corrective measures on his charge, thus interfering with the winning chances of not only Alvarada but also another runner, Adron.

With the ‘bit’ used on Alvarada having slipped out of the horse’s mouth during the race, the visiting jockey Ravinder Singh’s inability to exercise proper control over his mount could be appreciated.

But what about Cristopher’s antics in the saddle? The champion jockey kept himself engaged in disturbing Alvarada instead of a purposeful race on the hot-favourite. So much so, he allowed Aracruz to bump into Alvarada who shifted the course alarmingly and went out of action in the last 100m.

The stipendiary stewards’ observing the proceedings, further confused the turfites by not suggesting the sitting stewards to open an ‘inquiry’ into the race. The matter of this gravity was passed off by the stipes imposing fines of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 on Cristopher and Ravinder respectively.

The stipendiary stewards report, in fact, gives the impression that the stipes were unsure about their observations. The report reads: “....Aracruz (C. Alford) continued to move in with the jockey not making sufficient effort possibly touching and forcing in Alvarada (Ravinder Singh) the latter having to shift....”

Firstly, if Cristopher did not make sufficient effort to win the race, the matter should have been referred to the stewards.

Secondly, the term ‘possibly touching’ is totally new to turf phraseology. Either Aracruz touched Alvarada or she did not touch her. The television replays of the race testifies the statement that the two horses did touch each other. The stipes may not have seen a different version on the giant screen which is at their disposal. They were unsure, thus the expression ‘possibly touching’. If that was the case, there was more reason for them to take the approval of the stewards.

Barring the Fillies Stakes, Cristopher was at his best. His handling of Aldebro in the opener and that of Crucible was faultless. Ravinder Singh, too, excelled in the saddle when he partnered Analyzer to a fluent victory in the Not Much Handicap.

Earlier, the Wednesday-racing was ruled by Cristopher. Barring the curtain-raiser, which Cristopher on Ashbury lost in a close tussle against Lockers Park, the champion jockey was impressive. He converted a possible defeat into a stylish victory on Cup Of Life in the Abernethy Handicap. His handling of the hot-favourite Alyssum in the feature, the Mica Empress Cup, was equally praiseworthy, though, stipes fined him Rs 1,000 for shifting out suddenly in the home stretch.

Annella, another of Cristopher’s winner, was the most impressive performer on the day. She could win again.    


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