Officials of Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan said that they had the financial resources to pay the franchise fees to enter the Indian Super League and that they decided against it “on principle.” “We had the financial capability of paying the franchise fees, but we didn’t want to pay it on principle,” East Bengal Assistant Secretary Dr. Shanti Ranjan Dasgupta is quoted as saying by Goal.com, “We are not against the ISL, but the AIFF should have a proper plan and structure in place.”
Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Bengaluru FC were the three clubs touted to leave the I-League and join ISL at the end of the previous season. While Bengaluru FC went ahead with the process and became one of the two new teams to be playing in the IMG-Reliance owned league in the new season, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal decided against it. It was widely reported that they had refused to pay the franchise fees required to enter the league.
Mohun Bagan financial secretary Debasish Dutta also said that the franchise fee was never a factor for the club’s decision to stay out of the ISL. He also said that both the clubs wanted to play their derby match at the Salt Lake stadium, as it has been traditionally. With the stadium being the home ground of ISL champions Atletico de Kolkata, there have been doubts if Bagan and East Bengal will be able to play in the stadium at all.
“We want the Mohun Bagan-East Bengal I-League Derby to be played at the Salt Lake Stadium. Not only that, we also want to play some of our key matches at that venue. We will be taking up the matter with state sports minister Aroop Biswas soon,” said Dutta, “If the stadiums are full when Bagan or East Bengal play, that will send a message to the AIFF and the ISL. They will perhaps then understand the legacy of these two clubs.”
Instead of the three months that has been the case since its inception in 2013, the 2017/18 season of the ISL will be played over five months. Apart from Bengaluru FC, the city of Jamshedpur will host the new team and will be owned by Tata group.