Indian football clubs, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have decided to opt out of the ISL as they were against giving franchise fees. However, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal called upon their fans to show solidarity and support and stand by them.
Speaking at a press conference Mohun Bagan finance secretary Debasish Dutta said, “We have agreed in totality that if we have to show our strength, we will do it on the field.”
“We request all our fans to fill in the ground in such a way the stands are packed and there’s 5000 more outside. And no tickets will be free. We want to show our strength.” he said and added, “At the same time we won’t ask them (fans) to not go to ISL. They are free to support ISL but our request is to show our strength for each of our matches in the I-League.”
Recalling the famous triumph of 1911, he said, “History says we have won bigger battles that too in barefoot. Mohun Bagan and East Bengal are the clubs because of their fans, their performances on the field. We have always been in top five of country’s league. We have seen many clubs — Dempo, Pune FC, Mahindra United to name a few — come and go but we are permanent. These eight (ISL) clubs are jut three-year-olds,” Debasish said.
However, he also said, “We must thank them. They have chosen football over cricket. We must not forget that we could not participate in the World Cup due to lack of funds.”
Commenting on the role of the AIFF, he said, “They should have shown them the right path, of reviving the I-League instead of creating a new League (ISL).”
AIFF vice-president Subrata Dutta said, “They are not opposing ISL but it’s a battle between ISL versus I-League. We must not forget we are talking about one Club (Mohun Bagan) which is 128-years-old and another (East Bengal) of 97. ISL would not have been born without I-League. By not including Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, it’s not being fair to them.”
“Their annual budget is worth around Rs 15-17 crores and to expect them to pay a franchise fee of Rs 15 crore is not fair. Even the companies do not double their turnover in one year. They (AIFF and IMG-Reliance) should have been more flexible,” Dutta said and added “Football is club-based. The more we develop players and infrastructure, the better it would be for the country.”