After East Bengal were officially inducted into the Indian Super League (ISL) on Thursday, former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia has welcomed the move.
Bhutia said that the inclusion of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan in the ISL will benefit everybody as he believed the Kolkata giants needed a big platform and that the ISL also required such big clubs.
“I think everybody will benefit from this association. East Bengal and Mohun Bagan need a platform like the ISL, and ISL also needs clubs like East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. These clubs have a huge fan base. So, to me, everybody is going to benefit. It’s a win win situation for everyone,” IANS quoted Bhutia as saying.
Even though there have been a general perception for years that the Reliance Foundation’s Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) was reluctant to include the Kolkata club, Bhutia refused to admit it.
“Adopting clubs like East Bengal and Mohun Bagan takes time. They thought it was not important initially, but I don’t think the ISL management ever thought that they will not include East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. It was only a matter of time I guess,” Bhaichung said.
“Every country needs a good league and good teams playing in it. And a good league with good teams will only help the development of football in the country,” Bhaichung said.
Reliance Foundation chairperson and founder Nita Ambani announced the expansion of the ISL to 11 teams and officially inducted East Bengal on Sunday.
Welcoming the Red and Gold brigade into ISL, Nita said that the inclusion of East Bengal will throw limitless opportunities for the development of Indian football in the upcoming days.
“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,” said Nita in a statement.