On Thursday, ATK acquired majority stake in I-League heavyweights Mohun Bagan and together they will now play in the ISL from next season.
The RPSG Group, which owns and runs two-time ISL champions ATK, will become an 80 per cent majority shareholder with Mohun Bagan owning the remaining 20 per cent shares. The merged club will come into existence from June 1, 2020 and will compete in the ISL 2020-21, along with other important competitions of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) calendar.
"Huge news for all those connected with football fraternity and for fans. It's a morale booster for them I would say because ISL is the top league right now and I am sure Mohun Bagan fans will love it," goalkeeper Rajat Ghosh Dastidar, who played for Mohun Bagan between 1999-2003, told Star Sports.
N.S. Manju said a top club like Mohun Bagan deserves to play in the top league. "ISL is the top league in India and Mohun Bagan being a big club should play in this league. The legacy will continue and this will be good for Indian football," he said.
ATK are in the race for top honours in the ISL, while Mohun Bagan are also in the running for what would be their fifth national title in the I-League. Sushanth Mathew revealed that when ATK came into existence, they wanted to merge with the franchise.
"When ATK came to ISL, we badly wanted to collaborate with it. So it's great news for Indian football," he said.
Syed Rahim Nabi exuded confidence that this move will draw more fans to the stadium. "I feel this will further pull crowds and there will be packed houses in Kolkata," he said.
( With inputs from IANS )