Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], September 27 (ANI): Nita Ambani, Founder, and Chairperson, Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) on Sunday announced the expansion of the Indian Super League (ISL) by welcoming East Bengal FC into the seventh edition of India's top-flight competition.
Following Shree Cement East Bengal Foundation acquisition of the majority stake in East Bengal club and their successful bid, the club will embark on its maiden ISL journey as the eleventh team in the competition.
"It is such a happy and proud moment for ISL as we welcome East Bengal FC and their millions of fans into the League. 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," Nita Ambani said in an official statement.
"West Bengal has made an immense contribution to the growth of the beautiful game in India. ISL's growing footprint in the state and across India is yet another step towards our mission of building a competitive and robust football ecosystem in the country," she added.
On September 2, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had confirmed that football giants East Bengal will join arch-rivals, Mohun Bagan, in the Indian Super League (ISL).
Speaking during a press conference, the Chief Minister had said that it was important to ensure that a club of East Bengal's stature does not miss out on playing in the premier league of the country.
"We are proud of Bengal's football. East Bengal was almost missing out on playing in the ISL. Mohun Bagan had made an agreement but there was uncertainty about East Bengal. East Bengal has been trying its best, but there has also been the coronavirus pandemic."Despite all the hurdles, we did not want that East Bengal (EB) should not get to play in the ISL after having such a rich history. We did not want the fans to miss out. We love Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Mohammedan Sporting everyone," she had said.
East Bengal was almost certain to miss being a part of the seventh edition of the ISL after FSDL's meeting with the clubs in July highlighted how the organisers had presented the roadmap for the upcoming season with 10 teams on the mind.
Football Sports Development Limited's presentation made it clear that there was no scope of an increase in the number of teams as far as the 2020-21 season was concerned. Defending champions ATK had in January announced the merger with Mohun Bagan and the newly merged entity was named ATK-Mohun Bagan.
The team in its first board meeting decided to retain the green and maroon jersey and that pleased the fans as it has been synonymous with the iconic club. The club's logo was also retained with the addition of 'ATK' to the boat. (ANI)