In what has been hailed as a historic move for Indian football, the merger between one of I-League’s historic clubs Mohun Bagan, established in 1889, and two-time Indian Super League winners ATK that was established in 2014, has evoked mixed reactions.
The RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, owners of ATK, acquired a majority shareholding of 80 per cent in Mohun Bagan Football Club (India) Private Limited on Thursday. The move will see Mohun Bagan be renamed as ATK-Mohun Bagan and take part in the 2020-’21 ISL season, which was earlier announced as India’s’ top tier league.
Though Mohun Bagan general secretary Srinjoy Bose has assured that the deal will have no negative impact on the club’s identity, the move has left Indian football fans divided.
What do you think of the Mohun Bagan-ATK merger: Good for Indian football? Wrong on the fans?
While there are still doubts whether the new club will don the iconic Green and Maroon colours of Mohun Bagan, it comes as no surprise that the deal will come as a huge boost for the Marines who have been struggling with financial problems for some years now. The establishment of the new deal could make it a formidable force not only in India but also Asian football.
They can look to follow Bengaluru FC’s footsteps, who also began their journey in the I-League before making the shift to ISL ahead of the 2017-’18 season. The Blues, in their six-year history, have carved a reputation as one of the best football clubs in India, winning a domestic title every season.
With Bagan having faced managerial problems in the past, the current deal will provide some financial muscle and see them invest more money on infrastructure, grassroots and other facilities.
However, some Indian football fans are not happy. A few Mohun Bagan fans on Thursday, were against the move and began protests outside the Mohun Bagan tent in the Maidan. Some fans argue that, it it happens, by changing the logo and doing away with the historic colours, Mohun Bagan will lose its charm.
Even former player Baichung Bhutia was not in favour of Mohun Bagan changing colours and playing under a new name.
Also, what does this move mean for the future of I-League, who fought for a unified league in the summer as a result to preserve their identity? Even East Bengal took a dig at arch-rivals Mohun Bagan’s decision to merge with ATK, saying their club will be never be up for sale.
With a powerhouse such as Bagan set to join the ISL, the relevance of the I-League also suffers a huge blow. This will also have a negative effect of the Kolkata derby, which will be only restricted to cup competitions and the Calcutta Football League unless East Bengal switches to the top-tier.
So, which side of the debate are you on? Was it the right decision for Mohun Bagan to join ATK or should they have stayed in the I-League to preserve its identity?
Lets us know your opinion in the comments section here.