East Bengal & Mohun Bagan keen to join ISL bandwagon
By Baidurjo Bhose
New Delhi, Aug 7 (IANS) On a day when FIFA sent in a strongly-worded letter asking I-League clubs to work in tandem with the All India Football Federation (AIFF), it has also come to light that the two giants of club football in the country -- East Bengal and Mohun Bagan -- are trying their best to hold talks with Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) to get an entry into the Indian Super League (ISL) at the earliest.
Speaking to IANS, sources in the know of developments said that both the clubs have an issue with financial resources and getting into the ISL would help them rope in sponsors apart from getting the top players playing in the country.
"They have been trying their best to hold talks with FSDL to see if they can make an entry into the ISL at least next season because it is too late for them to get in this year.
"You have to realise that both the clubs are under the weather when it comes to managing their finance. Mohun Bagan doesn't have a sponsor and East Bengal too will have their task cut out once Quess leaves.
"For them to get new sponsors will be impossible unless they get into the ISL as also the league has the best players playing so that is an added incentive," the source explained.
It has also been learnt that the letter from FIFA has rattled the clubs and they are no longer keen to be a part of any group as such. Six I-League clubs -- Minerva Punjab FC, Mohun Bagan, Quess East Bengal, Churchill Brothers Goa, Aizawl FC and Gokulam Kerala FC -- had joined hands and written to FIFA Chief Gianni Infantino asking him to intervene and save Indian football.
Minerva FC owner Ranjit Bajaj had signed the letter which had urged FIFA to help the clubs as they fight for survival. But the FIFA has made it clear that the clubs must co-operate with the AIFF for the betterment of Indian football.
"FIFA, together with the AFC, remains available to assist and support the AIFF with this process and it will be important that all clubs work closely with the AIFF as the cooperation of all stakeholders will be fundamental to ensuring that the best way forward for top-level football in India is found," FIFA's Acting Deputy Secretary General Mattias Grafstrom said.