Mohun Bagan-ATK merger: Will the end of an era kick off a new beginning?

Mohun Bagan and ATK announced a merger in January to play in ISL. Illustration: Prathap Ravishankar

In the early 2000s when Mohun Bagan was struggling to raise funds to sign Brazilian footballer Jose Ramirez Barreto, a fanatic fan mortgaged his house to arrange the money.

For over a century the grand-old club Mohun Bagan Athletic Club -- commonly popular as just Mohun Bagan -- had been essentially run as a public institution dependent on the grace of its members and fans. So is true of its arch rival, the East Bengal, the Mohammedan Sporting Club and other football organisations of the city.

They withered many a crisis as fans and members backed them even when they hit a bad patch. In sharp contrast, many renowned Indian clubs owned by corporate houses waned into oblivion.

The Jagatjit Cotton and Textile Football Club, popularly JCT FC, Mafatlal Club, Tata Sports Club and Mahindra United Football Club are some of the big names that faded away just because the companies that backed them did not have the passion of a die-hard fan who is even willing to risk a roof over his head just to ensure his favourite club gets a prized catch.

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