Kolkata-based football club, East Bengal, has been officially included in the upcoming Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 season, Nita Ambani, founder and chairperson at Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), announced on September 27.
Ambani announced the expansion of Indian Super League by welcoming East Bengal FC into the seventh edition of India’s top-flight football league. Their arch-rivals, Mohun Bagan, merged with ISL champions ATK earlier in the year.
Ambani said: “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 – East Bengal and Mohun Bagan (now ATK Mohun Bagan) opens limitless possibilities for Indian football, especially for talent development in the state.”
“West Bengal has made an immense contribution to the growth of the beautiful game in India. ISL’s growing footprint in the state and across India, is yet another step towards our mission of building a competitive and robust football ecosystem in the country,” Ambani.
Following Shree Cement East Bengal Foundation acquisition of majority stake in East Bengal Club and their successful bid, the club will embark on its maiden ISL journey as the 11th team in the competition which started off as an eight-team competition back in 2014.
The other 10 teams in the Indian Super League are ATK Mohun Bagan, Mumbai City FC, Odisha FC, NorthEast United FC, Hyderabad FC, Bengaluru FC, Chennaiyin FC, FC Goa, Kerala Blasters and Jamshedpur FC.
East Bengal is one of the most-decorated clubs in Indian football, they won their first league title in 1942 and have since gone on to win the title a record 39 times.
The club was also a founding member of the National Football League in 1996 and have won the league title three times. They have also won eight Federation Cups, three Super Cups, a record 29 IFA Shield titles, and a record 16 Durand Cup titles.
Earlier, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had announced that the Red and Golds are set to play in the ISL after managing to attract investment from Shree Cement Limited.
With the seventh edition of the ISL slated to be a single-venue event in Goa due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the club celebrating their centenary year are set to be part of the ISL.