The ATK-Mohun Bagan merger has capped off a brilliant year for the Indian Super League (ISL). The league has catapulted themselves to wider global recognition over the last few months.
The first major breaking news item was the CFG Group entered into negotiations with ISL club Mumbai City in March. The takeover was completed and announced several months later in November and it is a landmark deal for Indian football.
To have CFG, which owns football clubs like Manchester City, Melbourne City and Girona, take interest in a club that plays in ISL is an excellent achievement for a league that started in 2014.
The next recognition came from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the All India Football Federation (AIFF), which granted ISL the top league status in India. Having been recognized as a national cup competition up until then, the premier league status has validated what the league has been trying to do over the past few years. The ISL has become the desirable destination for young footballers as it offers better infrastructure and payment and now, being the top league, it has become an even more attractive proposition.
ATK and Mohun Bagan announced a much-anticipated merger deal on Thursday but the talks have been ongoing for several months. The case of the two Kolkata clubs playing in India's top league has been a matter of debate for several months now and by attracting one of the biggest clubs in India with over 100 years of legacy, the ISL has opened the doors to a huge fanbase in Kolkata.
ISL has its critics regarding issues on and off the field but there has been a lot of hard work put into making it a globally recognised league. The last 12 months have seen their efforts being rewarded and surely, there might be more to come.