Kolkata: Indian Super League (ISL) franchisee Atletico de Kolkata’s (ATK) principal owner Sanjiv Goenka on Saturday said his team was not competing with city football giants Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, and saw no problem regarding allotment of home ground with the two big domestic leagues — ISL and I-League — slated to be held parallel this year.
Describing Mohun Bagan and East Bengal as “great clubs with great legacies”, Goenka said he has grown up watching and idolising them.
But ATK, winner of two titles in the three ISL editions so far, has its own fan base, he said. “Mohun Bagan and East Bengal are great clubs with great legacies. We have grown up watching them, idolising them, So we don’t compete with anyone. ATK has its own space and fanbase.
“Mohun Bagan is Mohun Bagan, East Bengal is East Bengal. They’re Dadas (big brothers), we are bacchas (kids). Wish us well. We have won two out of three ISL titles. Back us for more,” Goenka said at ATK’s first press conference of the season.
ATK and the two age-old football clubs have virtually been on a collision course, with prolonged negotiations continuing over I-League East Bengal and Mohun Bagan’s future entry into ISL. For this year, an extended ten-team ISL and the I-League are slated to run simultaneously as a short-term measure.
Many feel that holding of the two simultaneous leagues will put ATK at a disadvantage, as their supporter base was no match for the legions of fans that the city giants have. Moreover, all three teams have asked for the Salt Lake stadium as their home ground. So far, no decision has been taken.
But Goenka said he saw no issues in that regard, even as he shied away from a more categorical reply. “I don’t see any problem. I don’t see an issue. Those in the know, know well. There is no issue,” was all that he would say.