East Bengal FC, backed by multiple sponsors, are set to join the Indian Super League (ISL) from the upcoming season, as per recent media reports.
Ever since Mohun Bagan merged with ATK to join the ISL, East Bengal had been under pressure to make the jump to the league, which will now be deemed as India’s top-flight competition from the upcoming campaign.
East Bengal have been wanting to join the ISL for a long time. The club had planned on entering the competition back in 2017 only but had to back out due to a lack of sponsors. However, that seems to have changed now.
East Bengal have been locked in negotiations with multiple potential sponsors, including American consumer goods company Procter and Gamble. They have been signing player after player recently, building up hype and it now seems that they are all set to join the ISL from the 2020/21 season.
It is also being reported that following in the footsteps of East Bengal FC, RoundGlass Punjab FC could also be headed to the ISL from the 2020/21 campaign.
Following a meeting between the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) last October, it was decided that two new clubs would be allowed to join the ISL after the 2020/21 season.
However, the authorities seem to have now fast-tracked the plans, with the league likely to expand to twelve teams as early as next season. This development comes after Football Sports Development Ltd (FSDL) held a meeting on Wednesday, where the possibility of new club joining the league was discussed, among other things.
The 2020/21 season of the ISL is likely to see a delayed start due to the coronavirus pandemic. While the season usually kicks off in October, it could be pushed back to November end/December. If deemed necessary, the matches could also be played behind closed doors.