Russell Osman: ATK Mohun Bagan merger can only be a good thing for Hero ISL

A new chapter in Indian Football began when Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) champions ATK FC and Hero I-League winners Mohun Bagan formally merged and became one entity – ATK Mohun Bagan FC. Former English defender and pundit Russell Osman believes that the merger ‘can only be a good thing’ for the Hero ISL.

"From everybody's point of view this is a very positive move. For the Hero ISL, it can only be a good thing. The history of the club is magnificent, Mohun Bagan," Osman said in an interview with IANS.

ATK Mohun Bagan announced on Friday that they will be retaining the iconic green and maroon colours as well as Mohun Bagan’s logo. This move has been widely appreciated by the fans, and the former Leicester City defender feels the same.

"Mohun Bagan has been synonymous with Kolkata. The green and maroon is a unique kit and a lot of people worldwide will have seen and recognise it. For them to actually come together with ATK and the success they have in the Hero ISL with three wins to their name... it can only be a good thing," he said.

The former defender also sympathized with the club’s passionate fans who might be forced to watch their team play from their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Osman said "It's a shame that this season has been delayed. Lot of people wanted to see ATK-Mohun Bagan...their first home game...also playing in empty stadiums is a shame. Every home game would have been a full house.”

He then elaborated on the impact that ATK Mohun Bagan will have towards the development of Indian football. “When you look at the success they have, this new club shows how it has been put together. I can only see it being a very good thing for Indian football. It will help the Indian game worldwide. It is now setting a way for everybody else," the former England defender opined.

While discussing the massive strides made by Indian football in recent years, the 61-year-old highlighted the efforts of Mrs. Nita Ambani, Founder and Chairperson, Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL). "Nita Ambani, obviously the chairperson of FSDL, and CEO Martin Bain, they are all trying to push the business forward as much as they can, and I think they have got more people on their side than against them now,” Osman said.

The Englishman also pointed at Indian clubs’ participation in continental competition as a sign of doing things the right way. “You just hope now that the momentum that the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is injecting, the Champions League position for FC Goa, which they thoroughly deserve because they have been a fantastic team over the last couple of years, keeps going. ATK Mohun Bagan will also get to play the AFC Cup, which is great. It is recognition that the things are being done right. If they weren't being done right, they would not get the places," Osman concluded.

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