Kolkata giants East Bengal are now officially part of Indian Super League after they made a successful bid to become a part of the competition, now the top tier of Indian football, Football Sports Development Limited confirmed in a release on Sunday.
After the recent takeover by Shree Cement East Bengal Foundation, the Kolkata club was the solitary entity to bid for their inclusion in the ISL when FSDL sent invites for entry of a new team.
“It is such a happy and proud moment for ISL as we welcome East Bengal FC and their millions of fans into the League,” FSDL chairperson Nita Ambani said.
“The inclusion of both legacy clubs, i.e. East Bengal and Mohun Bagan (now ATK Mohun Bagan) opens limitless possibilities for Indian football, especially for talent development in the state,” she added.
After Mohun Bagan’s merger with ATK that saw the other top Kolkata club move to the ISL, East Bengal’s entry was always on the cards. However, with the club struggling financially, a woe that was compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, it seemed unlikely that the move would materialise in time for the team to be part of the 2020-’21 campaign.
However, with help from the West Bengal government, East Bengal managed to acquire a new investor in time to pave its way into the ISL.
East Bengal will become the eleventh team in the ISL and will take part in the 2020-’21 campaign that is scheduled to be played in Goa in its entirety.
The first Kolkata derby in the ISL will thus be behind closed doors but the rivalry is certain to be a big boost to the ISL.