India falling in favour of ISL as country’s top tier league

June 24 – The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has said its executive committee will decide future of the domestic game and the on-going division between the I-League and the Indian Super League. The governing body is expected to name the ISL as its top-tier league. 

The AIFF has long claimed they will offer a solution to India’s bi-league system, where the I-League runs concurrent with the cash-rich Indian Super League, modeled after cricket’s IPL and backed by Reliance, but so far the federation has been unable to resolve the schism in the Indian game.

The dispute has come to a head with the I-League clubs fearing for their existence. In March, seven I-league clubs refused to participate in the Super Cup in Bhubaneswar, instead demanding a meeting with AIFF president Praful Patel (pictured) to discuss the future roadmap of Indian football. Patel assured the clubs he’d grant them a meeting in April, but that was not enough to appease them and they pulled out of the competition.

The federation has called for a meeting of its executive committee at the start of July. The AIFF’s secretary Kushal Das said that a decision will be taken at the meeting, which would end years of uncertainty. The executive committee is expected to name the ISL at the top of the pyramid.

In 2010, the AIFF signed a Master Rights of Agreement with commercial partners Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), a subsidiary of IMG Reliance, which stated that a new league – the ISL – would be the top division of Indian football and that the I-League could be replaced. The scenario on the table however is that the I-League would become designated as a second-tier competition. There would be no promotion or relegation between leagues.

The implications of a new domestic model would have huge implications for the I-League teams. They submitted a proposed roadmap of a league with all the ISL and I-League teams in a unified top division, but that proposal was never lively to gain traction in federation circles.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1618613749labto1618613749ofdlr1618613749owedi1618613749sni@o1618613749fni1618613749


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