Patel opts to maintain ISL and I-League top tier structure for short term

July 5 – The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has postponed a decision to select either the Indian Super League or the I-League as the country’s top league, in favour of maintaining the current top-tier status for both leagues for the next two or three years.

All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel (pictured) told I-League clubs on Wednesday of their decision, in effect prolonging the impasse that has divided Indian football since the inception of the Indian Super League. 

While the meeting with Patel is unlikely to have given the I-League clubs the clarity and security they had hoped for within the future of India’s domestic game, they did have the reassurance from Patel that their interests will be safeguarded in the co-existance two league structure. Patel said he will consult the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to allow the two leagues to run concurrently until a solution is found. 

“We don’t want to pack up the I-League,” said Patel. “It should continue. But ultimately there should be a roadmap of Indian football. Two leagues cannot go on permanently. The AFC will also not allow it forever. It is just a solution for the time being.”

The I-League clubs have long been unhappy with the AIFF, which it sees as committed to making the ISL India’s top league. In the Spring several I-League clubs walked out of the Super Cup in protest over the AIFF’s failure to come up with a sustainable and feasible roadmap for the game that would please all parties involved.

Midway through the 2018-19 season, the AIFF had revealed that I-League broadcaster Star Sports would not broadcast half of the league’s matches. This led to an angry backlash from the I-League clubs. 

“There is a historical issue with Indian football, within that framework, I feel a reasonable two to three years window should be given for I-League also to be continuing,” said Patel. “I cannot give you any assurance yet because I have to talk to the AFC. The AFC also has to agree to what I am saying. The AFC will have to agree. Our commercial partners have to be consulted. At the end of the day, there are costs involved. I feel that the I-League also must co-exist with the fullest recognition of the AFC so that it is an AFC product.”

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1607155452labto1607155452ofdlr1607155452owedi1607155452sni@o1607155452fni1607155452


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