ATK buys 80% stake in Mohun Bagan

And thus it was decided. A century-old club – a club with one of the richest heritages in Indian football will be completing a merger with Indian Super League club ATK. The two Kolkata clubs merging may not come as a surprise anymore but the founding stones of the alliance were laid at a landmark meeting between Asian Football Confederation, ISL and I-League clubs Kuala Lumpur on October 14 last year.

The AFC in this meeting recognised ISL as the top league of Indian football and effectively demoted the I-League. AFC also recommended All India Football Federation to open entry to two I-League clubs into ISL by the end of 2020-21 season. Whether the merger signifies or follows those directives are murky at best considering the Bagan-ATK alliance is still one entity, rather than a fresh club entering the ISL.

Yesterday the RPSG group – which owns the two-time ISL champions ATK bought an 80% stake in the Kolkata legacy club, thus ending a will-they-won’t-they that has been going on for more than two years.

With Mohun Bagan now a part of the ISL from next year, East Bengal remains the last legacy club to be with the I-League. The rivalry that has been the lifeline of the I-League over the years might have come to an end, but the larger ramification of this move would have to be the decimation of the I-League as a premier competition. Once East Bengal finds a way to jump ship, the rest of the diverse clubs from all across India, and their futures, stand on shaky ground after the moves made today.

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