ISL will replace I-League as the top flight of Indian football

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AIFF and AFC have decided to replace I-League with ISL as the top-tier of Indian Football.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the officials of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) met in Kuala Lumpur and formulated a roadmap for league football in India on Monday.

The new roadmap which was proposed in the meeting, will hand ISL the status of the top division of Indian football, while I-League will be regarded as the second division.

In terms of continental football, the ISL champions would also be entitled to a play-off place in the AFC Champions League and the I-League champions would take a place in the AFC Cup in “a package that takes into consideration the recommendations of FIFA/AFC report of 2017”.

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According to News18, it was decided in the meeting that two clubs (East Bengal and Mohun Bagan) from the I-League will be offered entry into the Indian Super League by the end of the 2020/21 season, while the club that wins the 2022/23 and 2023/24 seasons of the I-League will get berths in the ISL in the next respective years.
Clubs in both leagues will be consolidated into one league by the 2024/25 season and a system of promotion and relegation will be implemented.

There will be no changes in the team rosters in the 2021/22 season. This is also slated to be the year when the AIFF decides upon the details of the consolidated league that will start from the 2024/25 season.

Additionally, the I-League clubs that get promoted to the ISL in the 2022/23 and 2023/24 seasons will not get a share of the central revenue which is distributed to other franchises.

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AFC General Secretary Dato Windsor John said in a statement: “Everyone has to put the good of Indian football at the forefront and take the best decisions to develop Indian club football. The AFC will be very much involved to ensure the growth of the game to the next level with the pathway to a single league.
Every point of this package and it is a package has been thought-out extremely carefully and it is aimed simply at providing the best chance to develop Indian club football. We have informed AIFF that 10-12 teams are not enough for the top League it must be bigger.

He further added: “Everyone has contributed to the development of the Indian club game – ISL, I-League clubs, the AIFF and the AFC and I am sure that if this roadmap is considered further, then Indian football will see the benefits for the game. We are now all working together to deliver the best future.”

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AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das said the proposed roadmap is in the best interest of all stakeholders of Indian football. He said: “We now have a roadmap which provides the best opportunity for Indian club football. I would like to thank the AFC and its General Secretary for their contribution in proposing a solution to this unique problem. India is an important country for football in Asia.”

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Das added: “We have to be financially sustainable and take into consideration all commercial and contractual aspects of this plan because commerce is key to football not only in India but across the world of football.
We must be cognizant of that fact of football life, that footballing legacy and investment are equally important for the development of Indian football.”

So from the 2024-25 season, there will be a single league in the country, in which promotion and relegation will be implemented.

As for now, the I-League, officially the second division of Indian football, will begin on 16th November. With the future roadmap of the domestic game now clear, it will be a very exciting season. On the other hand, the ISL – officially the elite division of Indian football- begins its 2019-20 campaign on 20th October.

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Rahul Roy
I am a computer guy by profession and a sports fanatic by choice.

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