Mumbai: It’s official. Riding a wave of emotions and last-ditch efforts, East Bengal on Sunday entered the ISL in the iconic club’s centenary year, joining Indian football’s significant other – Mohun Bagan – in the top tier.
Among others, the club’s journey to the Indian Super League involved a serious intervention by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The latest announcement by Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) chairperson Nita Ambani came less than a month after Banerjee personally announced city-based Shree Cement as the club’s major stakeholders following negotiations in the state secretariat.
“It is such a happy and proud moment for ISL as we welcome East Bengal FC and their millions of fans into the League,” the FSDL supremo Ambani said in a statement. FSDL runs the lucrative league.
The yet-to-be-christened consortium of East Bengal and Shree Cement, who holds a 76 per cent stake, becomes the 11th team to enter the ISL. East Bengal thus followed in the footsteps of arch-rivals Mohun Bagan, who were the first to join the top-tier league this season, after merging with three-time defending champions ATK.
The announcement will pave the way for the FSDL to finalise the detailed fixtures of the event that is set to start in November.
Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, the three-month long tournament will be played at three venues of Goa from the second-half of November. In the current scenario, the matches will be closed-door affairs, but the inclusion of the Big Two of Indian football will still take the league to another level.