The West Bengal FA warned the cash-rich league will not be allowed to hold games in the city if its two top clubs weren’t part of the extravaganza…

Representatives from Kolkata giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan met the Secretary of the Indian Football Association, Utpal Kumar Ganguli, on Saturday in a meeting at the Conference Hall of Netaji Indoor Stadium, Kolkata. After the meeting, a press meet had been scheduled. In this briefing, a few controversial and drastic moves and decisions were announced. 

Utpal Kumar Ganguli and the representatives from both the clubs addressed the media. Excerpts:

There had been a meeting on 22nd of May which involved AIFF President Praful Patel and Mohun Bagan and East Bengal officials. In this meeting, the clubs had told the President of their positive will to participate in the upcoming Indian Super League (ISL) season and the hurdles in the process, to which Patel had said that he would arrange another meeting to ease the process for the Indian football heavyweights. This meeting, though, never happened. There has been a confusion regarding Mohun Bagan and East Bengal’s participation in the ISL. 

The officials also said that a domestic road map was set to be decided for Indian football’s way ahead, but the AIFF hasn’t acted on it yet. The panel announced that they will write a letter to Indian football’s governing body and will try to arrange a meeting before 7th June, a day when all stakeholders are set to meet in Kuala Lumpur. The letter will be approved and backed by the West Bengal government, easily understandable by the fact that both clubs had recently met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The panel also said that they would like the AIFF to send a copy of the letter to the AFC.

AFC General Secretary, Dato Windsor John will chair the extensive meeting concerning the roadmap for the future of Indian football in Malaysia on 7th June. 

In an attacking set of releases, the panel also said that they feel AIFF President Praful Patel does not want to see the Kolkata clubs playing the ISL, or else is just not capable enough of making it happen. Mohun Bagan also said that they want a proper league in the country and would prefer to participate in the ISL if it is scheduled smartly with more time given to the players. The panel lambasted the approach of having two four-month long leagues, saying that the move would affect Indian players adversely and would hinder their quality and performances at the international level. 

Both the clubs said that they’ve enlisted a few criteria to participate in the ISL and would need AIFF’s support on them. The criteria are:

  1. They will not pay the franchise fee.
  2. They want the central pool money, either in full or a part of it. 
  3. The home matches would be organised by the club and not by IMG.

If the ISL authorities ignore the Kolkata giants, they would start a parallel tournament. The panel also said that if the merger happens, it should happen this year. On being asked why the concerned authorities are not trying to communicate their grievances to IMG-Reliance, someone from the panel quipped, “Who are they? They’re nobody.” 

Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of conundrum over the FSDL bids which were picked up by both the clubs reportedly, but none of them were able to submit it. The panel concluded the meeting, saying, “We’ll do everything to save Indian football.”