Durand Cup: Before Mohun Bagan-East Bengal derby, ticket mess leaves fans distraught
Disagreements on the ticketing process for the season's first Kolkata derby between MBSG and EBFC in the 2023 Durand Cup have forced many fans to stay overnight at the club tents.
Kolkata: The first Kolkata derby of the season is around the corner. Juan Ferrando's Mohun Bagan Super Giant will take on Carles Cuadrat's East Bengal FC on Saturday in the Durand Cup Group A match at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan.
As this is the first derby since the axing of the 'ATK' preffix before Mohun Bagan's name after a prolonged outcry from the fans, there is even more frenzy than usual.
But while the excitement is palpable, and ticket selling has started on Thursday and will continue till noon on match day, fans have been forced to take the heat in a literal sense, owing to an unwarranted situation that has led to a ticketing mess.
Disagreement over allocation
"Since Mohun Bagan agreed and East Bengal resented the Durand Cup committee's allotment of VIP and VVIP tickets, that is around 50 to 60, the organiser has decided to distribute the tickets between the two clubs. Members of the club now have to buy tickets from their tents," a source in the loop of the development told The Bridge.
But the bone of contention remains. Durand Cup's organising committee had initially agreed to allocate 5,000 tickets each to Mohun Bagan and East Bengal for direct selling from their tents. But with the clubs not agreeing to this term, the organising committee has decided to disburse 15,000 tickets each for sale from the clubs' Maidan tents.
"Durand committee held a meeting on Wednesday night. While it agreed to release 5000 tickets each for both clubs, the officials did not agree. They proposed that all the tickets should be sold from their tents as happened in previous derbys. Durand committee agreed, but on a condition that the clubs have to gurantee them on sale of tickets or remunerate them accordingly," another source said.
"The officials felt insulted and walked out of the meeting. In previous derbys, both clubs sold tickets from theit tents and gave the money back to Durand committee," the source added.
There was even a scuffle at the Mohun Bagan tent on Wednesday morning, as thousands of fans queued up before the club tent only to find the army stamping a notice on the entrance that ticket-selling would start from Thursday.
The Durand committee eventually discarded the idea of selling tickets on their online ticketing partner BookMyShow and allocated the tickets to both clubs.
But the organising committee's decision to release a mere 30,000 tickets for the match has left fans sullen-faced, with many being forced to stay overnight outside the tents in pursuit of tickets.
Arch-rivals lash out at Durand committee
Ravi Shankar, who runs a fan club called 'East Bengal The Real Power', which has over 1.5 lakh members on Facebook, lashed out at the organising committee. "The decision of the Durand committee is absolutely wrong. They do not want East Bengal and Mohun Bagan supporters to go to the stadium. They have released only 15,000 tickets each when the Yuba Bharati Krirangan has a seating capacity is 63,000. Why they are not issuing the remaining 33,000."
"We have been waiting in the queue in this hot and humid condition since six o'clock in the morning, craving a ticket," he added.
Mohun Bagan loyalist Rana Naskar of 'Green and Maroon Armada', who has also been waiting in the queue outside the club tent, echoed his rival, "This year, retention of the name Mohun Bagan has restored our faith in the club. They have accepted all our demands, including the removal of ATK. But the ticketing mess created by the Durand committee is unacceptable. Derby is the legacy of Kolkata football, how can they be so ignorant?"
Another fan, who does not wish to be named, said, "We have been sitting here since yesterday night. This mismanagement could have been avoided had tickets been sold online. Many fans who live outside Kolkata will not get tickets."