By Debayan Mukherjee
Kolkata, Jan 16 | Former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia on Thursday hailed Indian Super League (ISL) side ATK for acquiring a majority stake in I-League heavyweight Mohun Bagan, but opined that they should keep the 130-year-old club’s jersey and logo to reap the rewards of their legacy.
Bhutia also revealed that he was the one who advised Sanjiv Goenka, Chairman, RPSG Group, to acquire a majority stake in Mohun Bagan during his time as advisor of ATK.
“It’s good that Mohun Bagan is getting a good buyer but I think the colour and name has to be kept and the logo. Their history is very rich. It’s good that RPSG Group is buying it, they are a very professional company. But I hope that they can completely use the Mohun Bagan colour, logo and jersey. It should be maroon and green,” Bhutia told IANS in an exclusive interview.
“In fact, I had advised Sanjiv Goenka to buy Mohun Bagan and run the club together. That was the first time I told it to them. There was some issue with pricing and ATK felt it was a bit too much,” said Bhutia who has played for Mohun Bagan.
The RPSG Group, which owns and runs two-time ISL champions ATK, will acquire majority shareholding in Mohun Bagan and will become an 80 per cent majority shareholder with Mohun Bagan owning the remaining 20 per cent shares.
The new football club will have the brand names of ATK and Mohun Bagan, a statement from ATK said.
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.
“The jersey, logo and name is yet to be decided. As we said in the statement, the new football club will have brand names of ATK and Mohun Bagan,” a top ATK official told IANS.
Bhutia said it won’t affect the I-League as there will be promotion-relegation in the coming years.
The celebrated former striker felt Mohun Bagan’s bitter rivals East Bengal will also join the ISL bandwagon “sooner or later.”
“It might be two-three years but sooner or later they will also join the ISL.”
Bhutia lavished praise on ATK, saying they are one of the most professional teams in Indian football and Mohun Bagan needed someone like ATK for running their affairs.
“ATK are one of the most well managed teams in Indian football and Mohun Bagan know it big time. They are a good corporate company, Sanjiv Goenka is very committed. He is a great owner. I just hope he can use the logo and colour. That is going to give him lot of mileage.”
Asked whether the move will affect the Mohun Bagan players and coaching staff with ATK already having a set unit, Bhutia said: “No ,that is not a major thing. The coach and staff will take care of it.”
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.