The Indian Super League 2020-21 season will see the entry of a new, merged entity after the RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, owners of two-time champions ATK, announced that they acquired a majority stake in Mohun Bagan Football club. In an interview with esteemed journalist Boria Majumdar, Sanjiv Goenka announced that the new club will be renamed ATK-Mohun Bagan in a move which will see the century-old club permanently join the ISL.
Although this is the first merger in the history of Indian football, such events are not uncommon, with many European clubs as we know it having merged to form their present-day entities. Here is a list of five such clubs.
AS Roma was founded in 1927 when Italian legend Italo Foschi initiated the merger of three older Italian Football Championship clubs from the city of Rome: Roman FC, SS Alba-Audace and Fortitudo-Pro Roma SGS. The purpose of the merger was to give the Italian capital a strong club to rival that of the more dominant Northern Italian clubs of the time.
The Rome-based side won one Scudetto before being relegated at the end of the 1950-51 season and coming back up a season later and winning two more Scudettos. The Italian side has won nine Coppa Italia trophies as well.
Arguably the most successful team on this list, Paris Saint-Germain was founded in August 1970 after the merger of Paris FC and Stade Saint-Germain. PSG made an immediate impact, claiming the Ligue 2 title and winning promotion to Ligue 1 in their first season. However, their momentum was soon checked and the club split in 1972. Paris FC remained in Ligue 1, while PSG kept their name but were administratively demoted to Division 3. They got their revenge in 1974 when they returned to Ligue 1 and Paris FC slipped into the division below.
Since their inception, Paris Saint-Germain have played 48 seasons. PSG holds many records, most notably being the most successful French club in history in terms of major trophies won- 39. They are the only club to have never been relegated from Ligue 1, and one of only two French clubs to have won a major European title.
AFC Fiorentina was founded in 1926 by National Fascist Party member Luigi Ridolfi, who initiated the merger of two older Florentine clubs, CS Firenze and PG Libertas. The main objective of the merger was to give Florence a strong club to rival the more dominant Italian sides of the time from Northwest Italy. The rediscovery of Calcio Fiorentino, an ancestor of modern football and rugby that was played by members of the Medici family was another reason for the merger.
The club finally reached the Serie A in 1931, going on to win two Scudettos before bankruptcy forced their relegation to the fourth tier of Italian football in 2002, promptly returning to top-flight football in the 2005-06 season.
The German club from Cologne was created by the merger of Kölner BC and Spielvereinigung 1907 Köln-Sülz in 1948 after the second world war. In 1963, FC Köln was selected as one of the original 16 teams to play in the Bundesliga and became the first ever Bundesliga champion in the league's inaugural 1963–64 season. As German champions, Köln entered the 1964–65 European Cup where they lost to Liverpool at the quarter-final stage.
In the early years of the Bundesliga, FC Köln was the most successful club in West Germany in terms of total points won. However, the early 1990s saw the club's performance fall, and in 1998 it was relegated for the first time. Since about 2000, the side has been a "yo-yo team", moving between the first and second divisions. They hold the distinction of the worst goalless run in Bundesliga history when in 2002, the club took 1034 minutes to find the back of the net again.
Among the earliest clubs to have merged into one, Newcastle united was created by the merger of Newcastle West End and Newcastle East End in 1892. The two clubs were rivals in the Northern League. In 1889, Newcastle West End were in serious financial trouble and approached East End with a view to a take-over. The club was eventually dissolved, and several of their players and backroom staff joined Newcastle East End, effectively merging the two clubs, with Newcastle East End taking over the lease on St James' Park (originally belonging to Newcastle West End) in May 1892.
After bouncing in the lower divisions, Newcastle gained promotion to the newly formed Premier League, and the club experienced their most successful period ever. They earned two consecutive runners-up finishes in the league in 1995–96 and 1996–97, coming very close to winning the title in the former season which included a 4–3 game against Liverpool at Anfield. However, they were relegated on two different occasions, once in 2010, and then in 2016, before Champions League winning manager Rafa Benitez led them back to the Premier League in the next season.
Feature image: AFP/ Valery Hache