India to officially have two national football leagues in 2017-18 | football | Hindustan Times
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India to officially have two national football leagues in 2017-18

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has given the Indian Super League (ISL) the recognition the franchise-based competition didn’t have in its first three editions.

football Updated: Jun 28, 2017 18:58 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
The Indian Super League (ISL) has received the official approval from Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
The Indian Super League (ISL) has received the official approval from Asian Football Confederation (AFC).(AFP/Getty Images)

It’s official: there will be two football leagues in India in 2017-18.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has green-lighted the proposal of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and with it given the Indian Super League (ISL) the recognition the franchise-based competition didn’t have in its first three editions.

The letter of consent reached AIFF on Wednesday from AFC’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur and has been signed by its general secretary Dato Windsor John, HT has learnt.

The decision comes one day before the AIFF again meets representatives of I-League clubs.

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‎The approval from the AFC though made it clear that this is a temporary solution without specifying a time frame by when it must change. Fifa too has been informed about this, the letter stated.

So, at least for this season, the I-League champions will represent India in the 2019 Asian ‎Champions League qualifiers. Should the 2017-18 I-League winners fail to qualify --- no Indian club has so far --- they will get an automatic berth in the AFC Cup, the continent’s second-tier tournament.

The winners of the 10-team ISL that will run for five months beginning November will get an AFC Cup qualifying slot. Till 2016-17, it was given to the winners of the Federation Cup.

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‎The news of ISL getting the AFC Cup qualifiers’ slot will come as good news for Bengaluru FC who have so far been the only Indian club serious about the competition. It has been reported that Bengaluru FC had hinged their joining ISL on this.

Having emerged runners-up last year, Bengaluru FC have made the zonal semi-finals this time and will play North Korea’s 4.25 SC (April 25 Sports Club) home and away in August and September.