The upcoming seventh season of the Indian Super League will see the entry and addition of Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan and East Bengal to the now 11 team league.
To me one thing is clear, since the inaugural season of the Indian Super League in 2014 a lot has changed in the landscape of professional Indian club football. The ISL, despite criticism from certain quarters, has taken Indian football forward and now it is the time for the ISL to grow further.
A key step forward was the enforcing of the clear roadmap for Indian club football under which the ISL became the top division with the I-League becoming the second tier, thereafter Mohun Bagan joining hands with ATK to become ATK Mohun Bagan and their archrivals East Bengal getting investors Shree Cement on board to form SC East Bengal, the Indian Super League can now focus on a sustained growth path for the league and their clubs.
The entry of ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal not only strengthens the ISL as a league but also strengthens the ISL’s brand and overall reach.
The success of these two Kolkata giants and their unmatched legacy are part of Indian football history besides the fact is that they have the biggest fan supporter base within Indian club football. And these fans will now also be fans of the ISL like in the initial years when Mohun Bagan and East Bengal fans supported Atletico de Kolkata, when the dates of the ISL and I-League would not clash.
Now with Mohun Bagan and East Bengal being part of the ISL – Season 7, it means a much bigger fanbase for the Indian Super League to cater for which the league needs to take care off, then it will be a mix of old and new Indian football fans.
But on the other side for Mohun Bagan and East Bengal joining the ISL also means learning a lot about professional football management. While Mohun Bagan have the advantage of joining hands with three-time ISL champions ATK, East Bengal will work with a corporate house in Shree Cement after the disastrous ending of their venture with Quess Corps.
As the Indian Super League welcomes Mohun Bagan and East Bengal into its fold, its a new dawn for Indian club football.