October 26, 2021

Srinjoy Bose: Sacrifice self-interest to improve ATK Mohun Bagan

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The club officials want to focus on long-term plans and wants to be Asian champions within the next five years…

In January 2020, Indian Super League (ISL) club ATK and I-League club Mohun Bagan decided to merge to form ATK Mohun Bagan and take part in the ISL from the 2020-21 season.

In the first board meeting of the new club, which was held in July, it was revealed that Bagan’s colours and the logo had been retained but the name of the entity remained ATK Mohun Bagan, leaving a section of the fanbase unhappy.

Bagan official Debasish Dutta, on the occasion of the celebration of the Mohun Bagan Day on Wednesday, addressed the issue and alluded to previous instances of discontent among fans that ultimately turned out to be a boon for the club. 

“Mohun Bagan is a 131-year institution, sensation, and emotion. In 1990, when Tutu Bose and Anjan Mitra joined the club they took a drastic decision. No foreign players had played in Mohun Bagan till that day. Then we signed Chima Okorie and the rest, as they say, is history. That was the right decision and now it has (since) been proven. Again in 1998, we made a JV (joint venture) with Vijay Mallya. But that professionalism was lacking. Fans were angry on both occasions.

“We need to embrace change and move hand in hand with time. Then in 2018, after winning elections, we registered under society act, patented the logo and colours. We became owners of those things. We got legal documents. Those things helped us in negotiating with the corporates. Mohun Bagan will play to become ISL champions. We play only to become champions. So we wanted to get into a partnership with somebody who can fuel that dream. It was necessary to get into a partnership which will have passion and professionalism,” stated the financial secretary. 

Srinjoy Bose also echoed the sentiments of Dutta and stated that Sanjeev Goenka is the best man to take the club to the zenith of success. They have an extraordinary camaraderie with the principal owner which eased negotiations before the merger took place. 

“We wanted someone who understood the sentiment of Bengal and Mohun Bagan. It must have a footballing culture. Plus a team that should play to become champions and ATK have (done it thrice). The interesting thing is Sanjeev Goenka is also superstitious. When ATK could not become league champions in ISL, Goenka was frustrated. Then we understood that he is the right man. Being second does not matter to us. We want to become champions.

“We have been saying from day one that the logo and colour will remain the same. Mr Goenka understood the importance of these two things. So we told that the maroon and green strip is necessary for the away jersey as well. Our wavelength with Mr Genka matched instantaneously and the deal took shape,” said the general secretary. 

At the same time, both officials made it clear that it was important to take stock of the larger picture and that the interest of individuals should take the back seat. 

“We were clear to our conscience. Mohun Bagan came first to us. We cannot play with the emotions of millions of fans. We were used to making decisions all by ourselves. But to go to the next level we had to make sacrifices. To take Mohun Bagan ahead we had to sacrifice our personal interests. And we did that gleefully. if you don’t do that, you will have to suffer and many are suffering today,” stated Bose taking a sly dig at arch-rivals East Bengal who are yet to seal a berth in ISL. 

Dutta agreed,” Yes, the sacrifice of self-interest is necessary to take the club forward. And I think the merger of the two clubs will be remembered as the rebirth of Indian football.”

Moreover, he hinted that the club is looking forward to chalking out long-term plans involving a robust sporting project and development of infrastructure. 

“We are I-League champions. We want to become ISL champions. Then it is also time to do well in the AFC Cup. But we must be realistic as well. We cannot be Asian Champions next year. But if we have a plan then we can become champions in the next five years. The infrastructure will also be improved. But again it will take time and within a span of five years, there will be significant developments and that would include a club tour as well.

“If we want to be the champions, we need a good team and that requires good finance. For the next two years, it is likely that the members will get free tickets. After that, the members will get tickets at highly discounted rates. Moreover, if we want good infrastructure you need money. All these things will be ensured only because of sound finance. We talk of a glorious past, but now its time to talk of a glorious future,” concluded the official.