ONE OF THE oldest clubs in the country, Mohammedan Sporting, are taking a long awaited step towards revival by signing a new investor.
Market Cube, an American marketing company, will acquire almost half the shares of MSC's holding company. Further details of the deal will be revealed on Monday at the official announcement, when representatives of the investors will be in the city to formally announce the joint venture along with Mohammedan officials.
The news has come a week before Mohammedan Sporting are starting their I-League Qualifier (2nd Division League final round) campaign, trying to earn a place in I-League 2020-21.
The club that was established in 1891 has been one of the most popular in the country and a top division league regular until their relegation a few years ago. The supporter base for the club has been left stranded in recent times with MSC falling out of the top level of Indian football, but never eroded. This was evident when Mohammedan won the 2014 IFA Shield, and 60,000 fans showed up to attend the final. They also enjoyed sold out crowd at the Mohammedan Sporting Ground when they challenged for the Calcutta Football League title in 2016-17, ending up as the runners up.
A few months ago a young administrator Wasim Akram took the reigns of the club and since then multiple steps have been taken to adopt a more modern, professional outlook in the club's football activities. First they put together a strong team for the I-League Qualifier, headed by promising coach Yan Law. But the fanbase regularly demanded that they should adopt a newer outlook, and sign an investor for a future ISL entry, the same way their biggest rivals Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have done. This deal with Market Cube is a result of that same initiative.
What sets the MSC-Market Cube deal apart from Mohun Bagan's deal with KGSPL or East Bengal's deal with Shree Cement is that in this case, the club's old board will retain a slight majority of the shares in the venture, unlike the other two who have sold a large majority of the shares to their investors. A possible result of this could be that Mohammedan Sporting would not seek to invest in an ISL entry through the bidding process, instead looking to enter via the promotion route which comes into effect from 2022-23.
But whether or not that's the path they will take will become clearer when the official announcement takes place. As of now, fans of MSC are hoping for this move to be a catalyst behind a national level resurgence, so much so that some supporter groups have decided to be present at the airport on Monday morning to welcome the investors' representatives.