In a big move for Indian football, AIFF announced that Indian Super League(ISL) will be the top tier football tournament in India and replace the prestigious I-League. The idea was originally proposed by Asian football confederation(AFC).
AIFF and AFC officials were present in the meeting at Kuala Lumpur where the roadmap was prepared in a meeting with I-League and ISL clubs. As per the decision, the winner of ISL will be entitled to take part in play-off match in the AFC Champions League and the champions from i-league would take a place in the AFC Cup in “a package that takes into consideration the recommendations of FIFA/AFC report of 2017.
“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,” AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John said in a statement.
“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.
“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,” he added.
The proposed idea will now need an approval from AFC Executive Committee and the AIFF Executive Committee. As per the proposal, ISL will be granted the status of premier league competition in Indian football.
As a special compensation, the winner of ISL will directly get a place in AFC Champions League play-offs, while the winner of I-League will get to play the AFC Cup play-off. Two teams from I-League will get promoted to ISL from 2021-22 season, subject to certain criteria getting fulfilled.
More over, in the 2022-23 season, the winner of I-League will be promoted to ISL without paying any fee. In the 2024-25 season, it is agreed to fully implement promotion and relegation into the top league, and the abolition of two parallel leagues.