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Unpaid Bagan players in revolt

Calcutta, June 14: That anarchy is the way things are at Mohun Bagan was clear again Saturday as the players threatened not to take the field in Sunday’s season-opener if they were not paid.

Not only have many players “not been paid a penny” as a senior player confirmed, even their jerseys have been stolen from the club. That is apart from the regular hoodlum presence the club witnesses.

Shyamal Sen, one of the three special officers appointed by the Calcutta High Court to look after matters related to football, was requested by coach Aloke Mukherjee to have a word with the players and try and contain the growing discontent among them.

Sen, who reached the tent after practice Saturday morning, was “shocked, to say the least”. “It was a horrifying situation with many unwanted people crowding the club tent,” Sen said.

“The players made it clear to me that unless they are given their dues, they won’t be taking the field,” the ex-Justice added. Sen said he sat down with the players and tried to persuade them to take the field, but “people started banging on the door,” making things more difficult.

“I had asked the police to be present there and they had to intervene to clear the mess,” Sen added.

He further informed that the players do not even have the jerseys for the tournament. “All their outfits had been stolen. I even had to order for new jerseys.” He also said that there was no medicine and no first-aid kit for the players.

Sen sounded confident that the players will finally take the field, but another special officer, G. N. Ray, said no money can be paid before Monday. A senior player told The Telegraph late Saturday that he isn’t playing sans payment, and that “I am not alone in this, I am sure. It’s absolutely impossible. Many of us haven’t been paid a penny till now. It’s a collective decision and I hope the others will stand by it,” he added.

“Though I have attended the managers’ meeting, I cannot guarantee whether the team will take the field or not,” Aloke said. He also made it clear that he won’t insist on the players’ taking the field. “It’s their decision, I’ve no say whatsoever,” the coach said. Mohun Bagan are scheduled to open against Mohammedan Sporting in the Yamaha Libero Cup one-day meet at the Salt Lake Stadium.

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