Indian football icon Bhaichung Bhutia on Thursday hailed the merger of Mohun Bagan and ATK but said he was not happy with the merged club to be named as ATK-Mohun Bagan from next season. Mohun Bagan will be rechristened ATK-Mohun Bagan after the iconic club merged with ATK FC on Thursday by selling the majority stake to the owner of the two-time Indian Super League winners. The merged club will come into existence in June and will compete in the ISL 2020-21.
"Why would you want to have it's name ATK-Mohun Bagan? That does not go well. That branding has to be done properly. The deal was all about buying the identity and history. With that history, you will have millions of fans across the world. That you will have to keep in mind," Bhutia told PTI.
"ATK are just five-six years' old. It's not a very old club. I don't think ATK really have that identity. It started with Atletico de Kolkata, now it has become Amar Tomar Kolkata (ATK). I don't think it will be a big loss for them if they lose that identity."
As per the deal, the RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, who are the principal owners of ATK, will acquire majority shareholding of 80 per cent in Mohun Bagan Football Club (India) Private Limited. Bhutia who has played for Mohun Bagan for four seasons as player as well well as captain, pleaded that the RP Sanjiv Goenka Group must ensure to keep green-and-maroon's rich identity intact.
"That (Mohun Bagan's) identity should not go. I don't think Sanjiv Goenka will do that mistake because for him buying Mohun Bagan is buying an identity. If he makes that mistake of losing that identity, that will be the biggest ever loss," the former India captain said.
"I hope that they use Mohun Bagan's colour, logo, and the name. They should not use ATK's colour, they should use green-and-maroon. They should use Mohun Bagan's logo and name. Because it has got a rich history and heritage. I hope they can utilise that."
The idea of buying out Mohun Bagan was first mooted in the second ISL season when Bhutia was the team's advisor, and he is excited that it has finally come through. "In fact, when I was ATK's advisor I had actually first advised Sanjiv Goenka to buy out Mohun Bagan. Maybe the budget did not work out then. They were looking for investors. We had initiated the move then. "I think Mohun Bagan have got a good owner. ATK are one of the best-managed teams of the ISL right now. Sanjiv Goenka is one of the most visionary, successful corporates in India. They have got a very good corporate takeover. They are the best-managed club in ISL right now. I think it's a great move for Indian football."
Bhutia felt it's now a matter of time for his another former club East Bengal to also join the ISL bandwagon. "East Bengal will also get there in a few years time. East Bengal anyway have got a corporate management (Quess). I hope the move will help and inspire," he signed off.