In a colossal plot twist, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan are likely to participate in the Indian Super League next season, alongside Bengaluru FC, according to a report in a leading Bengali daily AnandaBazar Patrika.
Apparently, there has been numerous meetings and correspondences between club officials and those at IMG-R and it seems that the I-League powerhouses are currently reviewing the possibility of joining the ISL.
ISL’s Chief Executive Officer Mr Sundar Raman has been in contact with the East Bengal and Mohun Bagan officials for quite some time now and has asked the East Bengal and Mohun Bagan management to provide him with the necessary documents.
If the idea does take shape, it is likely that the ISL will start from mid-November this year after the Under 17 FIFA World Cup and will last for at least 7 months involving 11 teams.
However, this would mean that the I-League's popularity would be dealt a massive blow-something which wouldn't go down well with AIFF.
Interestingly, Nita Ambani, Chairman of the ISL committee is keen to welcome the new teams in the ISL, keeping in mind their popularity and ability to draw crowds.
Much to the surprise of a few, Mr Sanjiv Goenka, Atletico Kolkata’s principle owner has not opposed the idea of these I-League clubs joining the ISL, in an interaction with the leading Bengali daily Anandabazar Patrika. “East Bengal and Mohun Bagan are huge legacy clubs. I used to watch their games as a kid. I have no bad-blood with these clubs,” he said.
However Mr Goenka refused to comment on the possibility of having three teams from Kolkata in the ISL, as there has been no official confirmation from IMG-R.
It will be interesting to see how the logistical and contractual problems are solved and how the other I-League outfits respond to it, given the merger goes ahead as scheduled.