The Indian Football Association’s Secretary, Utpal Ganguli, threatened to inaugurate a new league parallel to the Indian Super League if the legacy and heritage of the oldest football clubs in India aren’t protected from the commercial requirements put forward by AIFF’s partners.
There is a possibility of a merger between the I-League and the cash-rich Indian Super League, which allows only three I-League clubs to participate in the tournament apart from the already existing 8 ISL teams. The AIFF and their commercial partners IMG-Reliance are considering East Bengal FC, Bengaluru FC, and Mohun Bagan worthy of the honour. However, some reports have also emerged that the clubs need to change their names, logos and team colours to take part in the newer and longer league for the next 30 years.
Clearly unsatisfied by the pre-conditions, the Bengal unit of Indian Football Association threatened to take drastic measures to protect the clubs' heritage and history, if unreasonable demands were to be made due to commercial reasons.
“I am still hopeful of a solution. If required, we will do a new tournament. We will do what it takes to disrupt this arrangement. And that includes seeking the help of our state government. We can’t let the AIFF’s commercial partners (IMG- Reliance) almost dictate things,” IFA secretary Utpal Ganguli said at a news conference in Kolkata, reported PTI.
“There is no point in undermining the heritage and history of two clubs like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal by asking them give out the rights of their name, jersey and emblems.”
As Atletico de Kolkata are already a part of the Indian Super League, there are also reports that both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal will have to play at a different venue outside Kolkata because the ISL rules stipulate that only one team can take part from one city.
That also didn’t go down well with Ganguli. “If London can have multiple teams in the Premiership, why can’t Kolkata have more than one. We will talk to the owners of ATK and I am sure they will understand,” asked Ganguli.