The wait is finally over – East Bengal become 11th franchise to enter ISL

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Kolkata: After a long wait, East Bengal finally made its maiden entry in the Indian Super League (ISL), thus becoming the 11th franchise to enter the cash-rich football tournament in the country. Nita Ambani, Founder & Chairperson, Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) welcomed the Red and Gold brigade for the seventh edition of India’s top-flight football league.

The Kolkata-based club parted ways with Quess Corp last month and was in search of a new investor who would have helped them in getting a ticket to ISL. And that’s when Shree Cement came in the picture claiming the majority of the stake in the club and making a successful bid.

“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, i.e. East Bengal and Mohun Bagan (now ATK Mohun Bagan) opens limitless possibilities for Indian football, especially for talent development in the state,” said Nita Ambani.

“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,” she added.

The other 10 teams in the ISL are ATK Mohun Bagan, Mumbai City FC, Odisha FC, NorthEast United, Hyderabad FC, Bengaluru FC, Chennaiyin FC, FC Goa, Kerala Blasters and Jamshedpur FC. This year the ISL will be played between November to March with the concept of a bio-secure environment in Goa.

All the matches will be played behind closed doors at three venues – Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda; GMC Athletic Stadium, Bambolim; and Tilak Maidan Stadium, Vasco. East Bengal’s arch-rivals Mohun Bagan, after its merger with ATK, will also debut in this ISL season.

The entry of East Bengal in ISL means the continuation of the 130-year-old rivalry with Mohun Bagan as the ‘Kolkata derby’ will be played in the ISL for the first time.

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