East Bengal set to join Indian Super League

With Mohun Bagan already part of the ISL following their merger with ATK, arch-rivals East Bengal could also feature in the top division this season. AIFF Media

East Bengal are set to join the 2020-21 season of the Indian Super League (ISL) after finalizing a new investor, Shree Cement. The announcement was made at a press conference held by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, along with East Bengal and Shree Cement officials.

"This will show a new path to others," she said. "It is really commendable of Shree Cements to come up and invest in football in such times. Hopefully, there won't be any more difficulties for East Bengal in the future. We want Bengal to be best in everything. Bengal should always show the way. Really happy that East Bengal's problems are over and they can take part in the ISL," she said.

East Bengal had been looking for an investor ever since the withdrawal of Quess in June. "This association with the cement company will be strong. All our success in the 100th year will be dedicated to Mamata Banerjee," said EB general secretary Kalyan Majumdar.

It is now the AIFF's and FSDL's decision to make regarding the acceptance of EB into the top tier of Indian football. The Kolkata club's archrivals, Mohun Bagan, will also be in the ISL next season thanks to their merger with three-time ISL champions ATK.

Sources close to the developments had indicated that they had been considering EB's entry into the ISL (post any investor confirmation) only for next season, but the pandemic-enforced delay to the season start had seen a renewed push from all quarters to get a deal sorted.

"After getting the investor, we will appeal to play in the ISL. We will adhere to their system. We (East Bengal) sat down with them last evening but all the issues were not solved, Mamata Banerjee was present and she herself helped iron out the details," EB secretary Debabrata Sarkar said.

The 2020-21 season of the ISL will be played behind closed doors in Goa, and is set to kick off in November.