Bhutia to meet Bagan on Aug 17

Mohun Bagan and Bhaichung Bhutia have agreed to meet on August 17 at the AIFF headquarters in New Delhi to settle their differences in the presence of general secretary Alberto Colaco. The federation wanted the two sides to meet on August 15 or 16, but deferred it on the Kolkata club's request.

Mohun Bagan secretary Anjan Mitra is confident of retaining Bhutia for this season. "Our contract with Bhaichung is perfectly legal and he has one more year left with us. We have a very strong case and I believe that the AIFF will take a decision in accordance with law," Mitra told The Indian Express. Bhutia's lawyer Usha Nath Banerjee, however, claimed that Bhutia did no wrong by leaving Bagan and entering into an agreement with East Bengal. "Bhaichung has a strong case. I doubt the legality of Bagan's contract. In any case, according to FIFA and AIFF rules, a player who is above 28 years of age is free to make a choice of club in the third year of his contract," Banerjee said.

Incidentally, Bhutia has joined East Bengal after Bagan suspended him for six months without pay on disciplinary grounds.

Banerjee also added that if needed they will also appeal to FIFA. "Whatever be the AIFF's decision, it's certainly not final and binding. One can appeal to the AIFF's appeals committee or can go to FIFA, or can move court challenging the decision," he said.

Bagan will call an executive committee meeting to decide their future course of action if the verdict goes against them. "If we don't get a favourable decision, our executive committee will decide what to do next. We won't take any drastic steps unless provoked," Mitra said.

The AIFF is likely to announce its decision only after the Nehru Cup.

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