Mohun Bagan will collect the Indian Super League (ISL) ‘Invitation To Bid’ (ITB) document on Wednesday and are expected to submit it by the stipulated May 25 deadline, club secretary Anjan Mitra said. The decision was taken after Bagan’s executive body meeting here on Tuesday. “We will collect the document and will submit the bid to become a new ISL franchise. But this is with a rider. In any case, we are not going to pay the franchise fee (Rs 15 crore) and we have to be based out of Kolkata. We have already informed this to the All Indian Football Federation (AIFF) during our meeting with its secretary,” Mitra told The Indian Express.
“We are not corporate entities and should be treated differently, considering our huge legacy and contribution to Indian football,” he added. The other Kolkata giant, East Bengal, too are expected to follow suit, having already collected the ITB. Earlier in the day, representatives from the two clubs met West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee at the state secretariat, Nabanna, and had an hour-long discussion about the issue. Indian Football Association (IFA) president Utpal Ganguli was also present.
“The chief minister has extended full support to the Kolkata clubs and asked them not to compromise their dignity. We will not pay the franchise fee, which is disrespectful to Bengal football. The Kolkata clubs have already submitted their proposals to the AIFF and the chief minister has asked us to wait for the Federation’s response,” Ganguli said after the meeting.
Apart from the franchise fee, having Kolkata as their home venue is another bone of contention for both Bagan and East Bengal as the city already has two-time ISL champions Atletico de Kolkata as its home team. As per the ISL’s five-year venue exclusivity clause, only one team is allowed from a city. Atletico Kolkata’s consent might be necessary to incorporate Bagan and East Bengal as teams based out of the same city.