The Shree Cement-East Bengal deal, which was announced with lots of fanfare last September, is yet to get cemented. The final agreement – drafted by law firm Khaitan & Co – has not been ‘signed and sealed’ till now though the deadline for the same was March 15. Sports enthusiasts were hoping West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee would intervene to iron out the differences. But that has not happened with the state witnessing one of the most intense Assembly elections in the recent history. Rumours that East Bengal is not eligible to participate in the forthcoming Hero Indian Super League (ISL) matches have got muffled amidst the high-decibel and cut-throat battle in Bengal between Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Those closely following the state’s football development claim the rumour is not unfounded. To participate in the ISL, The Club – rechristened as Shree Cement East Bengal Foundation, has to give bank guarantees by April 12, 2021. “If the definitive agreement does not get signed, Shree Cement will not give bank guarantees. And, if the bank guarantees are not given, The Club will not be able to take part in the ISL,” they apprehend, and claimed the deal between the two may fall through. It may be recalled this 101-year-old iconic football club, popularly known as Red & Gold Brigade, got a jolt when its lead investor Quess Corp pulled out from the two-year agreement in July 2020. Being a popular club among the migrants, the Kolkata-based Shree Cement, controlled by the Bangurs, entered the scene picking up 76% stake.