For a Mohammedan fan, the first few days of this week were tragic to say the least. Firstly, the club failed to make it to the quarter-finals of Federation Cup football and then was crushed heavily by one-time bitter rivals Abahani Limited in cricket. To make the matters worse they lost to Mariner Young’s Club, which effectively ended their chance of winning the title in the Dhaka Premier Hockey League.
The results in all three major disciplines – football, cricket and hockey – in the space of 48 hours indicate that something is going very wrong with the country’s oldest sporting club, which is at the heart of millions of fans.
Once an established force in country’s sporting arena, the club has been in terminal decline for nearly a decade, having never won the title in professional football league since it was introduced in 2006.
Its last major silverware in cricket came in 2009-10 while the club boycotted the hockey league for the last two years only to be relegated to third in the points table of the ongoing league.
In order to bring more professionalism and generate more funds, the club turned into a limited company in 2011, which ironically only complicated things.
Orion Group chairman Obaidul Karim was elected as the first president of the Mohammedan Sporting Club Limited in 2012 to lead a 16-member Board of Directors.
The tenure of the Board of Directors expired in September 2014, but no fresh elections were held in two years. According to the rules of the office of the registrar of joint stock companies, the club had to complete its election in January 2014, but the club failed to fulfill the legal obligation.
A court later gave it April 2015 deadline to complete the elections, but Mohammedan failed to follow this directive as well. Club officials said they are now waiting a fresh order from court to hold the elections of its Board of Directors.
Though Karim is officially still the president of the club, it is effectively run by director in-charge Lokman Hossain Bhuiyan. Most of the directors put their fingers on Lokman for making the traditional club as his ‘private property.’
One of the inactive directors Anwarul Haque Helal claimed that the club is occupied by some people who do not like to give any space to the genuine organisers.
‘Though I am a director, I am now inactive and like me most of the directors are inactive,’ said Helal.
‘When the club was turned into a limited company, we thought the club would develop a lot,’ he said. ‘But we only saw some opportunists occupied the club which turned the genuine organisers away.’
‘Only few individuals are now running the club and they are responsible for the whole situation.’
Monjur Alam Monju, director and chairman of football committee, was also disappointed with the whole situation.
Monju claimed that the club is now filled with huge number of outsiders, who only came to the club to take undue advantage.
‘I came here only for passion because Mohammedan is in my blood,’ he said. But it hurts when I see the club cannot perform well due to the negligence of some others.
I always want to form a strong team but done get support from others. Some people are happy to play with kids. We see some inexperienced players are wearing Black-and-White jersey. But they don’t have quality to represent a club like Mohammedan.
‘It’s a shame that if a donor wants to give the club Tk two he has to pay Tk eight extra to the opportunists. These opportunists are destroying the club gradually.
Bangladesh Cricket Board vice-president Mahbubul Anam, who is also a director of the club, blamed luck, not lack of organisational capacities for their recent failure in cricket.
‘We didn’t have lack of sincerity before forming a strong cricket team,’ said Anam. ‘But due to bad luck we conceded some silly defeats.’
Asked about the overall situation of the club, Anam refused to make any comment.
‘Better you ask it to director-in-charge because I am not directly involved with the club,’ he said.
Another director Kamrunnahar Dana also refused to make any comments over the whole situation of the club.
‘It’s really disappointing to see the failure of Mohammedan in every discipline,’ said Dana, without making further comment.
Badal Roy, a former Mohammedan footballer and vice-president of Bangladesh Football Federation, held director-in-charge Lokman for the entire situation.
‘Mr. Lokman used Mohammedan’s name only for his personal development,’ said Roy. ‘He ruined the club’s name and fame and I demand his immediate resignation.
‘I would also request some genuine organisers to come forward and drive the evil out of the club. Nothing is secured in Lokman’s hand. We saw him destroying the hockey for his personal ambition. He vowed to save football during our recent elections at a time when he cannot save the club.’
Lokman expressed his disappointment at the recent failure of the club in all three disciplines but brushed aside all the allegations against him.
‘As a supporter and part of Mohammedan I feel ashamed. I never thought that such an awful time would ever come,’ Lokman said adding that they failed to form a strong team in football due to lack of quality footballers and excessive demand.
‘Due to the lack of quality players and high remuneration of the players we could not form a strong team,’ he said. ‘The club doesn’t have any fixed income so that we have to run the club by literally begging to the donors.
‘We are running the club with the donations and subscription fees of the life members and directors. But some members and directors do not come to the club to avoid the donation and subscription fees.
‘It’s easy to criticise outside the club. I asked them to go inside to know the real truth.’
-With New Age input