The ‘first cut’ of the concept paper for the 2017-18 Indian football season has three tiers of league running simultaneously for five months, a Cup competition and an annual international meet called Champions Cup with the first one scheduled for next August.
The plan was shared by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and its commercial partners IMG Reliance with I-League and Indian Super League (ISL) clubs here on Tuesday. Bhaichung Bhutia, head of the AIFF technical committee, India captain Sunil Chhetri, India woman international Aditi Chauhan and former international O Bembem Devi, too were present.
The format shared with the stakeholders has not decided on the number of teams for the top tier, to be known as the Indian Super League (ISL), or the eligibility criteria. AIFF president Praful Patel said I-League clubs with a legacy and fan following will be helped by the federation to meet them. The next two tiers, called League 1 and League 2, will have 10 teams each.
Contractual obligations with ISL franchises --- they all have a 10-year deal --- precludes promotion and relegation for now, according to the proposal. League 2 winners though will be promoted to League 1 but since League 1 champions can’t qualify for the ISL, it will have to be seen whether promises of revenue sharing is enough to keep them from winding up first teams.
The number of foreigners in the ISL may stay at six but the champions will have to follow Asian Football Confederation rules of three imports and one Asian in the AFC Cup and the Asian Champions League.
A 16-team Super Cup will be India’s cup competition where top eight ISL teams and first four League 1 teams will get automatic entries. The winners will get an AFC Cup berth. Because of the U-17 World Cup, the 2017-18 season would run from November through March but going forward it will be a nine month season, according to the proposal.
Infantino to visit
Fifa president Gianni Infantino will visit India on September 27, according to Patel. He will visit Goa for an AFC congress and the finals of the Asian under-16 championships, said Patel.