Amrinder Singh, Liston Colaco, Hugo Boumous, Joni Kauko. To that list of some of the most expensive footballers or transfers in the Indian Super League (ISL) this season, ATK Mohun Bagan (ATKMB) added Juan Ferrando as coach on Monday by buying him out from FC Goa. The Kolkata club also took FC Goa’s strength and conditioning coach Javi Gonzalez.
“I will give my 110% from day one so that all fans can enjoy the best brand of football and hopefully we can celebrate together soon. I will consistently work towards helping the team give its best,” Ferrando said.
The ATKMB announcement did not specify the duration of the deal but according to a club official, it is for the rest of the season.
Without a win in their last four games, ATKMB are seventh with eight points from six games. They play NorthEast United FC on Tuesday.
Ferrando activated the buy-out clause in his contract, leaving FC Goa with no choice but to release him. “With disappointment I’d like to confirm that @JuanFerrandoF has triggered his release clause, obliging us to release him of his duties so that he can join @atkmohunbaganfc. As long the money gets deposited in our accounts, we do not have a choice in his decision,” FC Goa president Akshay Tandon had tweeted on Sunday.
On Monday, FC Goa director of football Ravi Puskur said: “We’re very disappointed to lose Juan. His decision to leave the club was rather unexpected and came as a surprise, particularly at this juncture of the season.
“We’re particularly disappointed that we were kept in the dark until yesterday (Sunday) morning where he communicated his desire to leave the club. However, once he stated his stance and the release clause was activated, we were left with little alternative. I wish Juan the best for his future.”
Having started with three losses, FC Goa won their next two games and drew with Hyderabad FC, Ferrando’s last game in charge, on Saturday. They are eighth in the standings with seven points from six games.
No one at either club was willing to go on record on this but the amount paid to FC Goa to get Ferrando is said to be ₹1.2 crore. That is more than what one India player who has a key role in a team which has won ISL gets in a season. It is also the first time a coach has activated his buy-out clause in ISL. Ferrando’s salary at ATKMB is likely to be thrice the $200,000 ( ₹1.5 crore) he was getting at his old club where he was in the final season of a two-term deal.
“Poaching our coaches, staff and players is fair game but I hope better sense and sportsmanship prevails in the future. We would have at least liked the opportunity to inform our squad ourselves,” said Tandon in another tweet.
Under Ferrando, FC Goa won the Durand Cup and played the ISL semi-finals last season where they lost to eventual champions Mumbai City FC on penalties. FC Goa became the first team from India to play in the Asian Champions League under the Spaniard earlier this year.
This isn’t the first season the Kolkata club has spent big. As ATK, they got Michael Soosairaj in the summer of 2019 and Manvir Singh the next year, paying Jamshedpur FC and FC Goa respectively over ₹1.5 crore.
ATKMB’s decision to poach Ferrando and spare no cost to buy players is reminiscent of how Mohun Bagan and East Bengal would operate through most of their 100-year-plus history. The trend continued till the 1990s when clubs in Goa, Mumbai and Punjab began to match or give bigger pay cheques than Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. That didn’t last for long but by the time those clubs faded, the Kolkata giants got into financial problems of their own.