December 2 – The 13th edition of the I-League kicked off this weekend in India, but the fate and future of India’s flagship league remains uncertain.In its current format the I-League boasts eleven teams, but the league is officially no longer India’s top league after the Indian Super League (ISL) was accorded that status earlier this year by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
In many ways it was a remarkable decision by the AIFF to relegate its own competition, the I-League, and pronounce the brash Bollywood-styled ISL the future of the Indian game. The AIFF were contractually obliged to do so following its contract with IMG Reliance which bankrolls the ISL, but it leaves question marks over who effectively runs the India’s domestic game at senior club level?
In the past AIFF president Praful Patel undertook what appeared to be half-hearted attempts to reconcile the I-League clubs with the governing body after the former complained of the lengthy delays in creating a new roadmap for the Indian game, which had been divided since the creation of the Indian Super League.
The I-League may have been relegated to the back burner in India’s landscape of simultaneous leagues, but still has plenty to offer. It has been a league rich of fairy tales with Aizawl FC winning the competition and FC Kashmir emerging as a force last season. With Mohun Bahan and East Bengal, the I-League also boasts the biggest rivalry in Indian football and a natural environment that the ISL has still not manufactured after five seasons.
On Saturday, Aizawl FC held Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan to a goalless draw in the Northeast and on Sunday Churchill Brothers defeated Minerva Punjab 3-0.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1594024097labto1594024097ofdlr1594024097owedi1594024097sni@o1594024097fni1594024097