East Bengal to play Tottenham Hotspur in exhibition matchApril 2nd, 2008 - 3:03 pm ICT by admin
New Delhi, April 2 (IANS) English football clubs have found a new market in India and to explore the new avenue, Tottenham Hotspur will take on Kolkata giants East Bengal in an exhibition match May 18. The offer to play the English team was first given to the Indian national team by an agent. But India’s football coach Bob Houghton refused, as the national team would be preparing for the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Cup during that time.
Houghton has always maintained losing to Tottenham Hotspur by a big margin would have been detrimental to the national team’s progress.
The agent then approached East Bengal and they have shown interest and May 18 has been decided as the possible date for the exciting encounter at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata. East Bengal’s city rivals Mohun Bagan will face Bayern Munich in another exhibition match at the same venue May 27.
“The English club will start their summer tour with China. But they felt India is a potential market for them and want to explore it. No English club has ever played in south Asia and if things materialise it will be a big occasion,” said East Bengal director Amit Sen.
“They selected Kolkata because of the city’s broad fan base. And since Mohun Bagan was playing against Bayern May 27, our date has been tentatively fixed on May 18,” he added.
But the main thing that has been troubling East Bengal is finance. In case of such exhibition matches, the host has to pay the visiting team a handsome participation fee. And in this case Tottenham Hotspur is demanding a huge amount.
“For a second rung team like Tottenham Hotspur their participation fee in south-east Asia ranges from 300,000-350,000 pounds. But to play in India they are demanding nearly double this amount,” Sen said.
He also said that East Bengal’s sponsor United Breweries is interested in hosting the match and is trying its best to negotiate a fair deal. “Our sponsors are very interested in hosting the match. And the money is not a factor for them. But they also can’t accept any unjustified demands. They are negotiating a fair price.”
Sen also said that since some of the players would be unavailable for the match due to the national camp for the SAFF Cup, East Bengal has approached the AIFF to allow them take players from other clubs to make a strong team.
“We want to have a strong team and give them tough competition. They will come with their full strength. They will have all the national team players because England has failed to qualify for the Euro. We have approached the AIFF for it and if we can have some good players from other clubs we will name the team as East Bengal Invitational XI,” said Sen.