Indian football giants East Bengal’s financial situation has worsened after the departure of investor Quess Corporation and the pinch is now also being felt by its cricket team with one of the club officials suggesting that the future of the club appears to be bleak, The Indian Express reported.

The cricketers contracted with the club haven’t received any money for the ongoing season and have written to the club’s majority stakeholder Quess Corp Ltd and the club management.

“Quess bought the sporting rights of both football and cricket divisions after entering into a partnership with our club. The company took care of all cricketing expenses, including player payments for the 2018-’19 season. For the ongoing 2019-’20 season, the executed player agreements had (Quess CEO) Sanjit Sen and cricketers as signatories. Unlike the previous season, the club is not a party to the agreements this term. The club only played the role of a negotiator,” an East Bengal official told The Indian Express on condition of anonymity.

East Bengal signed the likes of Abhimanyu Easwaran, Abhishek Raman, Arnab Nandi, and Shreevats Goswami ahead of the season as Quess wanted to strengthen the cricket team on the occasion of the club’s centenary year.

With Quess spending Rs 65 lakh on the team in 2018-’19, the expenditure for the 2019-’20 season shot up to Rs 90 lakh. Some cricketers have also tried contacting the Cricket Association of Bengal over the issue but the state federation is unlikely to intervene as it’s a club matter.

“Quess had promised to make a payment before last year’s Durga Puja. But that didn’t materialise. No payment has come as yet and we are dealing with a Rs 90-lakh vacuum. Some players have written to Quess and the club management. Let’s see what happens. Our partnership with Quess ends on May 31 and unless we get a new sponsor/investor, the club’s future is pretty bleak,” the official said.

Read: Glorious past, uncertain future: Can East Bengal stay relevant in Indian football’s new landscape?

East Bengal’s footballers too haven’t been paid since mid-March. Quess had expressed its inability to pay the salaries for May citing force majeure, but the players still haven’t received their dues for April.

Also read: Football Players’ Association to approach AIFF after East Bengal’s investors terminate contracts

Unless there’s a top-level political intervention, East Bengal won’t be part of the ISL any time soon. It was reported that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee spoke to All India Football Federation president Praful Patel about East Bengal’s plight.

The possibilities of the club finding a new sponsor are low due to the Covid-19 pandemic. East Bengal would be offered direct entry into India’s top-flight considering the fan base they carry but the club would be in no position to pay the franchise fee of Rs 15 crore.