RPSG picks majority stake in Mohun Bagan Football Club

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on January 17, 2020

Sanjiv Goenka-owned RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group has acquired majority stake in the century-old Mohun Bagan Football Club, for an undisclosed amount.

Post acquisition, expected to be completed in the next five-odd months, the RPSG Group will merge its existing football team, ATK FC, with the heritage club. ATK is a two-time Indian Super League (ISL) champion, while Mohun Bagan is a multiple time I-League winning club. The latter also has the distinction of being the first Asian team to win the IFA Shield.

The merged entity will come into existence from June 2020 and compete in the ISL season 2020-21, along with other important competitions of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) calendar.

In 1911, Mohun Bagan defeated the British Army’s East Yorkshire Regiment, firing two goals in the last five minutes to win the Indian Football Association (IFA) Shield.

The victory was said to be a landmark moment in India’s Independence movement and also the country’s football history.

The next time the club beheld such glory was in 1947 when it defeated arch rivals, the East Bengal Club, 1-0, to claim the shield again.

Mohun Bagan Athletic Club, established in 1889, which often calls itself the National Club of India, has over 100 major titles. Bagan won the National Football League (NFL) in 1998, 2000 and 2002, and won it again after its rebranding as the I-League in 2015. It is also a record 14-time champion of the now-defunct Federation Cup, once India's premier cup competition.

The Government of India released a postage stamp in 1989 to commemorate this famous victory and to honour the Club and its “Immortal Eleven” (the team which won the club’s first IFA Shield). This is the only postage stamp in India based on a club.

Majority acquisition

RPSG Group has picked up 80 per cent majority in the club, while the Mohun Bagan Football Club (India) Private Ltd will own the remaining 20 per cent.

“RPSG Group, which owns and runs professional football club ATK FC, will acquire majority shareholding in Mohun Bagan Football Club (India) Private Limited. This move will see the two football clubs coming together into a new merged identity to compete in the rapidly growing professional Indian football landscape,” a statement said.

The new football club will have brand names both of ATK and Mohun Bagan.

According to Sanjiv Goenka, Chairman, RPSG Group is known for acquiring and growing legacies such as the 120-year-old CESC, 150-year-old Spencer’s Retail, and the 100-year-old Saregama.

“Personally, it’s an emotional reunion for me, as my father, late RP Goenka, was a member of Mohun Bagan,” he said.

Sources say the marketing partners of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) that runs the ISL were keen on including either Mohun Bagan or their crosstown rivals East Bengal in the ISL since the franchise-based league began running concurrently with the I-League in 2017-18.

However, both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal had refused to join the ISL, stating an objection to the franchise fee of ₹15 crore and also reportedly refused to give up rights to controlling identifiers like their names, logos, jerseys, and to move out of Kolkata, owing to ISL’s prevalent one-club-per-city rule.

Published on January 17, 2020

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