Former East Bengal goalkeeper Sandip Nandy expressed his delight at East Bengal securing a new investor in Shree Cement Limited and their imminent entry into India’s top tier league from the 2020-21 season.
Nandy mentioned how the Red and Golds fans were anxious about their club’s participation in the Indian Super League (ISL) and how this news comes as a huge relief to them.
“The East Bengal fans had been waiting eagerly to see their club in the ISL even more after Mohun Bagan had joined the league after their merger with ATK. There were several problems and at what point of time everyone had lost hope but now the arrival of an investor comes as a huge relief for everyone,” said the former India international to Goal.
Nandy also spoke about how the inclusion of East Bengal and ATK Mohun Bagan will boost the popularity of the league. He hopes that the third Kolkata giants Mohammedan Sporting also ends up joining the ISL in the future. Mohammedan are currently playing in the Second Division I-League.
It must be noted that I-League winners will get "direct slots" in the top-tier ISL in 2022 and 2023. And from 2024-25, promotion and relegation between ISL and I-League will be in effect as well.
“It is very good that East Bengal has also joined the ISL. I have been telling this from a very long time that when ISL is the top league of the country it should have the two top teams in the country that is East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.
"ISL has been running for six years and now the two Kolkata clubs have joined so the league will understand the value of having these two clubs. It is a great thing for Indian football and I hope Mohammedan Sporting will also eventually qualify for the ISL in future.”
The former Kerala Blasters goalkeeper suggested that Kolkata Derby which is one of the biggest derbies in world football will enhance the viewership of the ISL.
“ISL, of course, has been very successful in the last six seasons, but the Kolkata derby, which is one of the biggest derbies in the world, will be a great addition to the league this season. The passion which is involved in the Kolkata derby is second to none.
“This year, unfortunately, there will be no fans to witness the derby in the stadium due to the pandemic but the viewership of the league will be very high,” said the veteran goalkeeper.