ATK-Mohun Bagan to play ISL next term
From June 1, 2020, Mohun Bagan, the oldest football club in Asia, and ATK, established in 2014, will form a new football club, it was announced on Thursday. It will play in the 2020-21 season of the ISL and other competitions listed in the calendar of the All India Football Federation.Updated: Jan 16, 2020 23:57 IST
The need for bigger investment prompted Mohun Bagan—the first Indian winners of the IFA Shield in 1911 and the only club from Kolkata which has won the I-League—to give up complete ownership of its football team 130 years after it was formed.
From June 1, 2020, Mohun Bagan, the oldest football club in Asia, and ATK, established in 2014, will form a new football club, it was announced on Thursday. It will play in the 2020-21 season of the ISL and other competitions listed in the calendar of the All India Football Federation.
The new club will be called ATK-Mohun Bagan, said Sanjiv Goenka chairman of the RP-Sanjiv Goenka (RPSG) Group. The group will own 80% of the new club. Twice ISL champions ATK are owned and run by RPSG.
“Personally, it’s an emotional reunion,” said Goenka who lives in Kolkata and speaks Bengali. His father, the industrialist Late RP Goenka, was a member of Mohun Bagan. “RPSG Group which has a 200-year-old legacy is humbled and honoured to welcome Mohun Bagan with folded hands and open arms to the RPSG family,” said Goenka.
“For me the vision is that the new club will strive to be successful not just in Bengal, not just in India but in Asia over a period of time,” said Goenka. From 2021, the ISL winners will play in the Asian Champions League, the continent’s biggest competition.
Speaking to this newspaper, Goenka said the colours of the new team have not been decided. One set of jerseys will be green and maroon—colours associated with Mohun Bagan—said a Mohun Bagan official. The remaining 20% shares of the new club will be with Mohun Bagan Football Club (India) Private Limited which was formed in 2017 and runs the football team.
The announcement ends years of speculation over how Mohun Bagan, who have struggled with players’ payments over the past few seasons, will get to play in the ISL a competition with annual franchise fees in the range of ~12-18 crore. It also secures the future of ATK who have been part of ISL since inception. Getting Mohun Bagan, who along with East Bengal have the largest number of supporters in India, in the ISL will increase the league’s following. This deal comes less than two months after Manchester City bought 65% stake in ISL franchise Mumbai City FC.
There is no decision yet on East Bengal joining ISL. “To usher into (sic) the new era of football, you need bigger investments and a corporate force to take it forward. This is undoubtedly a harsh and the bigger truth,” said Swapan Sadhan Bose, chairman Mohun Bagan Football Club (India) Private Limited.
Mohun Bagan have been without major corporate backers since 2014 when United Spirits Limited pulled out and one of Bose’s companies have mostly bankrolled the football team.
“I am sure officials of both clubs have kept the best interests of fans and larger interest of Indian football in mind while arriving at a well thought out decision. When tradition and legacy is backed by corporate backing, magic can be created,” AIFF President Praful Patel said.