All India Football Federation vice-president Subrata Dutta said that he hoped for the Indian Super League to show more flexibility to accommodate East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. The Kolkata giants were touted, alongwith Bengaluru FC, to leave the I-League and join the ISL after the end of the previous season. While Bengaluru have gone on to become one of the two new teams included for the upcoming season, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have stayed out.
It is widely reported that the two clubs’ refusal to pay the franchise fees is what has led to their exclusion from the cash-rich league. Dutta said that the gulf in the quality of marketing and coverage between I-League and the ISL would hurt Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, which in turn would be bad for the sport in the country. “If by then, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have lost sheen because it would be obvious to all that the I-League would, in terms of marketing and maybe broadcast quality, not be in the same category as the ISL, what will happen to the domestic football structure,” Dutta is quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
Both the clubs have been confident that they won’t be affected by the fact that they would remain in the I-League that is set to be run parallel to the ISL as the country’s two premier football leagues. “Together, we are the game’s watchdog and we will win this battle to stay relevant against teams who are barely three-four years old,” said East Bengal assistant-secretary Debasish Dutta.