25 January, 2021

Soda-Pop Soccer

Pritish Nandy tries to stop Mallya's clean sweep of Calcutta clubs

Soda-Pop Soccer

LIQUOR baron Vijay Mallya, mediaman Pritish Nandy, US-based investor Purn-endu Chatterjee. Bengali pride, the axiomatic incompatibility of the hilsa with the prawn, a game called football.

Bengal soccer fans have been up in arms for some time now. Last month, the city's fabled football clubs, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, converted their teams into companies. They got new names: United East Bengal Football Team Pvt Ltd and United Mohun Bagan Football Team Pvt Ltd. Nothing wrong in that per se, nearly everyone realises that with the ever-mounting costs, especially of acquiring players, clubs have to corporatise or perish. But how can both these clubs—whose fierce rivalry transcends sports to be an integral part of Bengal's social history—have a common partner, liquor baron Vijay Mallya's United Breweries (UB) group?

 "I don't understand," says former mayor and avid football buff Kamal Basu, "how two such companies have a single owner." Artist Ganesh Pyne feels this takeover could sound the death knell...



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