East Bengal became the latest club to join the Indian Super League on Sunday after Nita Ambani, Founder & Chairperson, Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), announced that the Kolkata-based team will be a part of the seventh edition of India's top-flight football league.
The century-old club's inclusion in ISL, starting November, was on expected lines after its new investors, Kolkata-based Shree Cement Limited, picked up the bid documents to enter the league.
A consortium of Shree Cement Limited and East Bengal, known as Shree Cement East Bengal Foundation, had submitted the bid documents to FSDL.
East Bengal will be the 11th team in the competition, which will be played at three venues of Goa this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It is such a happy and proud moment for ISL as we welcome East Bengal FC and their millions of fans into the League. The inclusion of both legacy clubs, i.e. East Bengal and Mohun Bagan (now ATK Mohun Bagan), opens limitless possibilities for Indian football, especially for talent development in the state," said Ambani.
"West Bengal has made an immense contribution to the growth of the beautiful game in India. ISL's growing footprint in the state and across India, is yet another step towards our mission of building a competitive and robust football ecosystem in the country," she added.
The other 10 teams in the Indian Super League are ATK Mohun Bagan, Mumbai City FC, Odisha FC, NorthEast United, Hyderabad FC, Bengaluru FC, Chennaiyin FC, FC Goa, Kerala Blasters and Jamshedpur FC.
East Bengal is one of the most decorated clubs in Indian football, they won their first league title in 1942 and have since gone on to win the title a record 39 times. The club was also a founding member of the National Football League in 1996 and have won the league title three times. They have also won eight Federation Cups, three Super Cups, a record 29 IFA Shield titles, and a record 16 Durand Cup titles.
The Kolkata club's archrivals, Mohun Bagan, will also be in the ISL this season thanks to their merger with three-time ISL champions ATK.
The 2020-21 season of the ISL will be played behind closed doors in Goa, and is set to kick off in November.