East Bengal expresses interest in ISL bid, Mohun Bagan mulling

East Bengal has confirmed its interest in being part of the Indian Super League after picking up the ISL bid document on Wednesday.

East Bengal has 11 players on long-term contracts and Sarkar said his team expects the players to honour their contracts regardless of the decision the Red and Golds take on ISL.   -  AIFF Media

I-League side East Bengal has picked the bid document to compete in the Indian Super League while local rival Mohun Bagan are expected to follow suit signalling the Kolkata sides’ eased stance against the IMG-Reliance owned league.

“We have collected the ‘Invitation To Bid’ (ITB) documents in Mumbai. But this doesn’t guarantee our participation. We can not take a plunge in the sea without assessing what’s on offer. We will study it and then details will follow,” East Bengal general secretariat Kalyan Majumdar confirmed.

Mohun Bagan general secretary Anjan Mitra said the Mariners are still to decide and the “discussions are on”.

A source closely tracking the development said the side has been in discussions for three months. “They know what ITB holds for them. It’s about making the call,” he said, revealing that “Two international clubs from Europe have also shown interest in ITB and had discussion with ISL office.”

Football Sports Development Limited, the ISL organisers, have floated the tender through an ‘Invitation To Bid’ on May 12, with the deadline for submitting the bid set as May 25. A maximum of three teams would be up for grabs.

This is seen as a doorway for East Bengal and Mohun Bagan to play in the ISL along with Bengaluru FC which has already picked the ITB, in what is seen by many as a move by the All Indian Football Federation (AIFF) to make the three-year-old ISL as the premier league of the country in place of I-League.

East Bengal has confirmed its interest in being part of the Indian Super League after picking up the ISL bid document on Wednesday.

“We will study the document carefully. We have always maintained that we are interested in playing top division football but we will join the ISL in our own terms,” said Debabrata Sarkar, a senior official at the club, to Sportstar.

Sarkar confirmed that the club, along with Mohun Bagan, will be meeting AIFF general secretary Kushal Das on the 22nd of May to discuss the terms.

East Bengal has 11 players on long-term contracts and Sarkar said his team expects the players to honour their contracts regardless of the decision the Red and Golds take.

Sarkar also denied reports that Heineken International, a Dutch brewing company and the largest stake holder of United Breweries Limited (sponsor of East Bengal), is interested in seeing the club play in the ISL. The alcoholic beverages manufacturer is a big name in world football and has partnered UEFA in multiple competitions.

Though a bid cannot be expected from either of the two Kolkata giants just because the document has been taken up for consideration, this is a sign that both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan are easing their stance against the IMG-Reliance owned league.

(With inputs from PTI)

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