ISL plans new League for Reserve, U-21 players

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The Indian Super League organizers have planned to commence a new league for its constituting clubs. This will be done to promote the Under-21 talents in these clubs who do not manage a lot of game time in the main team. A few reserves above the age group will also be considered.

A meeting of the CEOs of all clubs was held along with the Football Sports Development Ltd. FSD Ltd. is the body that organizes the ISL and they hold keen interests in encouraging teen talents as “there has been a limited number of competitions and leagues since the start of the pandemic outside the professional game.”

ISL has made it compulsory for ISL clubs to sign a a minimum of 4 development players who are born on or after January 1, 2001. Two of these players need to be part of the match-day squad. A lot of these players don’t manage a lot of game time. This has made the organizers plan for another league to keep the unused players engaged. This way players who do not get a chance will benefit.

A senior club official told TOI, “This will be a developmental league. We have been told that this won’t strictly be for under-21 players. A few overage players will be allowed, while many clubs want their reserves to have a chance.”

The Only Problem is…

Almost all the clubs are ready to participate in the developmental league. But there is one concern, the budget. In a presentation done to the clubs, they were asked to set aside almost a ₹80 lakh-₹1 crore budget for the team’s travel and accommodation. The organizational and operational costs however will be taken care of by the league.

“The developmental league is a very good idea, but I am not sure if all clubs are willing to spend the money. There have to be ways where the expenses are cut down,” another official told TOI.

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The proposed 2-month league is supposed to be held in Goa inside a bio-secure bubble. The plan is to hold the tournament between January and March. ISL’s standard medical and safety procedures will also be performed. All the teams will play each other once. The top 4 teams will qualify for the knockout stage.

A big lot of the developmental players put up some stellar performances last season in ISL. Players including Lalengmawia (NorthEast United), Suresh Singh (Bengaluru FC), and Akash Mishra (Hyderabad FC) even made it into the national team. Other players including Ashish Rai, Rahul KP, Jeakson Singh, Rahim Ali, Ninthoinganba Meetei, Shubham Sarangi, and Hendry Antonay also grabbed eyeballs.

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