Mohun Bagan is one of the most popular Indian football clubs and has a rich history to its name, but lack of good shows in the recent times have taken a toll on the team to such an extent that they are facing the inability to find a sponsor.
It might be the oldest football club in India and one of the oldest clubs in Asia – established in 1889 by eminent lawyer Bhupendra Nath Bose – but the absence of a big corporate sponsor since it parted ways with United Breweries-backed McDowell’s has seen the club just about surviving the test of time.
The club’s fans — after the recent Derby loss, twice in the same I-League season — have been upset with the current administration for not being able to rope in a big corporate house as a club sponsor. It has been four years since the club last had a major sponsor.
The two powerhouses of the club, Tutu Basu and Anjan Mitra, who ran the club together for decades, parted ways in the run-up to the 2018 elections. The result was a clean sweep for the Basu faction. Fans, who were expecting a big turnaround in the club’s fortunes, were let down as none of the proposals managed to cross the discussion table, let alone be implemented.
That the club that has a history of being the first Indian club to win the IFA Shield in 1911 – defeating East Yorkshire Regiment 2-1 on July 29 – is struggling to get a sponsor, is disturbing.
Former Indian footballer Subroto Bhattacharjee, an ex-Mohun Bagan player, who never played for any other Indian club except for Mohun Bagan in his heydays, said the absence of a sponsor presented a clear picture of the current situation at the club where there are neither exciting players nor a good coach.
“Those who are running the club are mere politicians and businessmen, hardly interested in the club’s well-being. They have no idea about the technical aspects of the game, how can they take a call on selecting a good player or coach,” he said.
“Unless you have a good team and good results in your favour, if you fail to entertain and are not able to pull the crowds to the stadium, why will sponsors put money on you?” he asked.
Another big name from the club, former Indian footballer Prasun Banerjee, currently a Trinamool Congress MP from the state, refrained from commenting, saying, “I am not an official. I am just a member supporter. Club officials should be asked about this.”
Debasish Dutta, the finance head of the club, refused to answer on phone about the sponsorship issue. He asked for an e-mail on his official mail ID, but there was no response to it.
Mohun Bagan got the tag of ‘National Club of India’ in its 100th year in 1989 by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi for its contribution to Indian football.