Khan is co-owner of the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Kolkata Knight Riders and could seize the opportunity when the ISL expands to 10 teams and becomes a top-tier league in 2017. Dempo Sports Club famously came close to roping in the Bollywood star as co-owner in 2012. Dempo chairman Shrinivas Dempo held several round of talks with Khan but the move fizzled out. Next year, though, it could be different as Khan prepares to partner another iconic football club – East Bengal – and that too in a city of his choice.Khan has always made it clear that should he decide to invest into football, it would only be from Kolkata and, incidentally, was handed lifetime membership by East Bengal during the promotion of his film Dilwale last year.
According to sources, IMG-Reliance, marketing partners of the AIFF, will expand the ISL to 10 teams next season with three existing I-League teams set to move up the ranks. The two new teams will be chosen based on a set criteria and indications are that apart from Bengaluru – a new venue – the ISL will make space for a second franchise from Kolkata. Defending I-League champions Bengaluru FC are tipped to win the race for the Bengaluru franchise, leaving East Bengal and rival Mohun Bagan in the fray for potential tie-ups that will help them make the gradeKolkata has space for just two franchises and indications are that franchises and indications are that one of the giants will have to join hands with Atletico de Kolkata. Sources say Mohun Bagan, who are in talks with a French company, could step on to the ISL platform after a tie-up with Atletico de Kolkata, for which talks are underway.
Atletico de Kolkata co-owner Sourav Ganguly, a long-time supporter of Mohun Bagan, is learnt to have been advised by the state chief minister Mamata Banerjee to look into a possible tie-up. East Bengal, of course with backing from Khan, could be the other franchise.
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