Mohun Bagan on Monday suspended captain Bhaichung Bhutia for six months for failing to reply adequately and in time to their show-cause notice for alleged indiscipline. The India captain is expected to be busy with the Nehru Cup till August 30 and would have been unavailable for club duty for the next three months.
Interestingly, the club general secretary, Anjan Mitra, has been empowered to reduce the period of suspension to anything between “one-day and three months depending on the situation”, a rider that appears to signal Bagan’s wish to retain the striker.
Repeated attempts to contact Bhutia, who is on holiday, failed. However, it is learnt that he will return to the city later this week and make his response public.
Earlier, after being slapped with the show-cause notice that was sent to him on May 14, Bhutia had made it clear that under no circumstance would he play for Mohun Bagan again. In his answer to the notice, he also reportedly asked the club to release him.
Although Bagan officials said they had not discussed Bhutia’s request for release, the executive committee’s decision can be seen as an attempt to prevent the striker from immediately signing for another club. Rumours have linked him with East Bengal since the row erupted.
“According to our agreement with Bhutia, he remains a Mohun Bagan footballer till 2010,” said Mohun Bagan vice-president Subroto Mukherjee. “We have suspended him for six months for repeatedly defying the rules and regulations of the club. He has been paying less attention to the game and more to other things.”
The row began after the player missed an invitation game in Jalpaiguri because of his involvement with a reality dance competition on television. Mitra had questioned Bhutia’s commitment and the show-cause letter, the content of which was made available to the media, had blamed the striker’s poor performance as “one of the main reasons” why Mohun Bagan could not win the I-league. They finished second to Churchill Brothers.
On Monday, however, Mohun Bagan refused to disclose the content of Bhutia’s answer. “However, we can say this: Bhutia violated the 48-hour deadline he had been given to answer. And his letter does not provide the answers we were looking for,” said Mukherjee.