Calcutta: Life for the Mohun Bagan players is certainly not a bed of roses at the moment. A bed of nails may be.
With Bagan’s fate in the I-League hanging in balance — they have been banned from the League till 2014-15, but have appealed to the All India Football Federation (AIFF)’s executive committee begging for a rethink — the players have not received salaries for the last two months.
Generally, the salaries are credited to the bank accounts of the respective players by the 10th of every month, but November and December’s salaries weren’t credited till Friday.
“It’s a weird situation we are facing. Agreed, the senior players are not facing any problem financially since most of the players are well off. But for the junior players, it’s a big problem,” a senior footballer, who is a vital cog in the Bagan wheel, told The Telegraph from Durgapur, where the club is now having a residential camp.
But there are still some players around who can afford a smile under the circumstances. Here’s what another senior member of the squad had to say: “Every time there is an SMS, or a mail, on a player’s phone, we ask whether it’s the SMS alert which we generally get whenever the salaries get credited.”
Bagan officials had spoken to the players last week and promised them that they would clear the outstanding amount by January 17. Interestingly, the AIFF executive committee will meet to deliberate upon Bagan’s appeal on January 15. And it is understandable why the Bagan officials have bought time till January 17.
“It is obvious that they want to wait for the outcome of the meeting,” the player said. The players though are not planning a revolt. “That’s not in our plan. But the things are not looking bright for the players at this point in time.”
Bagan’s annual wage bill runs up to Rs 13 crore approximately. And bulk of the amount is footed by Bagan’s main sponsor and co-owner of the football team United Spirits, who remains tight-lipped.
“They have a corporate responsibility, as well as sponsors’ responsibility,” Anjan Mitra said on Friday.
Conceding that there was a problem in paying the players’ salaries, Mitra said everything would be settled by January 17. “Why should the players be afraid? A club like Bagan will never take the players for a ride. People with vested interest are spreading rumours.”
Mitra did not agree that Bagan are buying time, waiting to see what happens on Januray 15. “No we are notů Even if we do not get a favourable decision in the executive committee meeting, the players’ dues will be cleared. We have told the players to wait till January 17 since we will come back from Delhi only on the 16th,” he said.
All said and done, it’s a double blow to the players. First, the AIFF ban which has jeopardised the players’ future and then the non-payment of salaries.
“We are just hoping the club keep their promise.”
Well, that remains to be seen.