With investors coming on board, Kolkata giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan may soon see the Indian Super League doors opening for them. The ISL, to accommodate the two Kolkata giants, will reportedly be expanded to a 12-team league.
The ISL will reportedly float bid documents in November to induct two more teams. The move is said to be aimed at getting East Bengal and Mohun Bagan on board. The clubs, who had earlier declined to pay ₹ 15 crore fee for joining the ISL, have strengthened their financial muscle with fresh investments and are said to be ready to buy the bid documents.
The expansion will also lead to the ISL becoming India’s top rung football league, relegating the I-League to the Division-1 status.
National daily Times of India has reported former India international and East Bengal player Lalrindika Ralte as saying that he had “heard East Bengal are going to play in the ISL next season, so this will be our last I-League campaign. We have to do well and hopefully win the title”.
An AIFF official has also confirmed to TOI that the “ISL will float the bid documents next month to induct two new teams. In all likelihood, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal will pick up the bid documents. I believe this has been done to get the two Kolkata clubs on board.
“Both the clubs have now got the investors which was a major issue earlier. The two clubs weren’t willing to pay the franchise fee of Rs 15 crore last year. Now, with their induction, the ISL will boast of 12 teams and will become the main league while the I-league will become Division-1 league. The vacancy in the I-league will be filled up by promoting two teams from the Division-2 championship.”
The AIFF senior vice-president Subrata Dutta has also confirmed that the I-League is being restructured. The planned revamp will in all likelihood will ensure ISL tickets for East Bengal and Mohun Bagan from the 2019-2020 season.
This year, the I-League will compete among 11 teams. Srinagar-based Real Kashmir will make their Division 1 debut after having won the Second Division title last season. The club from the trouble-torn Valley is making giant strides in Indian football.
Following the Kolkata giants’ elevation to the ISL, I-League next season will have two more clubs promoted from the Second Division.