Mohun Bagan must have expected star striker Baichung Bhutia to hit back following the showcause notice and hence they decided to do a bit of damage control by going slow on the issue.
The retort came harder than feared. On his arrival in Kolkata, Baichung announced that he would not don the green-and-maroon jersey any more.
“I have decided not to play for Mohun Bagan any more and have conveyed my decision to a few club officials in a meeting with them this morning,” Bhutia told DNA on Monday evening.
He launched a scathing attack on club secretary Anjan Mitra and labelled this showcause notice a publicity ploy. “He (Mitra) could have just spoken to me across the table and sorted the matter out. But he chose to go public by distributing the showcause letter in the media just to get more publicity,” a fuming Bhutia said.
“After playing 17-18 years of football, I don’t need to prove anything to anybody and so I decided to quit Mohun Bagan,” he said.
The India captain indicated that taking part in a reality show was not the only bone Mitra had in mind to pick. “I didn’t play the exhibition tie in Jalpaiguri and that was the grudge he held against me since he had organised the match,” he said.
On whether he would reverse his decision, Baichung was quick to draw the curtains. “Now it’s not possible to go out and play for the club which questioned my commitment... A bad blood has already been created and I won’t feel comfortable turning out for them in the forthcoming season,” he said.
The India captain was also taken aback by the fact that Mohun Bagan showcaused him when the season was over and he made the final of the reality show.
“I can’t understand why they are saying all this at this point of time when the season is over and I have made the finals of the reality show... There must be some other reasons also,” he said.
Bhutia, who still had a year left in his Bagan contract, however, feels getting a release won’t be difficult. “I have asked them to release me at the earliest and I don’t see any problem,” he stated.
Will Bhutia play this season? Though he didn’t come clear, Maidan sources say East Bengal are in the race to capitalise on Bagan’s loss. It is learnt that East Bengal are ready to offer him a contract, but money is a problem for them at this juncture.