Bengal (IFA) Drops a Bomb on ISL

Saturday, 27 May 2017|Anubhav Roda

The Apex football body from the state of West Bengal, Indian Football Association (IFA) issued a fresh threat to the Indian Super League (ISL) claiming no league games would go ahead in the city of Kolkata if the Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan and East Bengal aren’t included in the new, expanded league.

Utpal Kumar Ganguli, the Secretary of the IFA invited representatives from both the clubs for a meeting today at the Conference Hall of Netaji Indoor Stadium, Kolkata. The meeting was held behind closed doors, followed by a Press interaction where they made it clear that Kolkata would only play host to ISL matches if legacy clubs East Bengal and Mohun Bagan would too sail in the ISL boat.

Earlier, the two clubs had expressed interest in being a part of the ISL given their conditions of a waiver of franchise fees, money being distributed from the central pool and them being able to arrange home matches. 

The two Kolkata giants had earlier met AIFF President Praful Patel on May 22nd, followed by a meeting with West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee in the presence of Ganguli on May 23rd to discuss on the same and other obstacles in their way. 

In both the meetings, the clubs talked about the fact that I-League was getting diluted, while ISL was fast gaining popularity. As a result, the two expressed their interest in jumping to the ISL bandwagon but on certain criterions being met. Also, they discussed the hurdles in their way and asked for cooperation for the same.

While Patel had promised another meeting to talk about the same in detail, Banerjee had comforting words for the clubs asking them not to worry about anything and wait for the meeting with AIFF President or officials to discuss the way forward.

With the bidding process of the ISL ending on May 25th, the fate of both teams is hanging in the balance having failed to submit the bid papers. But the two are adamant on getting extension in addition to getting their demands fulfilled. 

To add to the scathing warning of not letting the matches go ahead in the city of Kolkata, attack was also thrown at AIFF President Praful Patel, claiming that either he doesn’t want to see these clubs in the ISL or is unable to act upon it for lack of power among the IMG-R setup. 

The panel also highlighted that though they want to be a part of the ISL, they would prefer it to be organized in a better fashion and that two leagues of four months each made little sense for the clubs, players and Indian football on the whole.  

Earlier, IFA had issued a statement claiming they would start a parallel league in case Bengal football is made to suffer by the ISL authorities.

With these threats and attacks been thrown, it is only to be seen if the IMG-R and the AIFF act upon it and gain confidence of the two clubs and the Bengal body or are ready to rival them into a new phase of Indian football.