New I-League teams from Chennai, Chandigarh | football | Hindustan Times
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New I-League teams from Chennai, Chandigarh

Chandigarh and Chennai were added to the list of cities with I-League teams when Minerva Punjab FC and Chennai City’s participation for 2016-17 season were okayed by the AIFF.

football Updated: Dec 11, 2016 22:01 IST
HT Correspondent
Sunil Chhetri-led Bengaluru FC are the reigning I-League champions.
Sunil Chhetri-led Bengaluru FC are the reigning I-League champions.(PTI)

Chandigarh and Chennai were added to the list of cities with I-League teams when Minerva Punjab FC and Chennai City’s participation for 2016-17 season were okayed by the bid evaluation committee of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) in New Delhi on Sunday.

With 10 teams, one more than last term despite Goan clubs Dempo, Salgaocar and Sporting Clube de Goa pulling out, this season’s competition is scheduled to start on January 7 and continue till the end of April. The Federation Cup will be held after that in a yet-undecided format though, according to a source in the AIFF, it is possible that last year’s format of having the top eight I-League teams participating in a home-and-away knockout competition would be retained.

With two new cities added, it would mean this season’s I-League would have nine venues. The AIFF isn’t ruling out having 10 --- one for each team --- if Mohun Bagan manage to reach an understanding with Atletico de Kolkata and use the Rabindra Sarovar stadium. East Bengal have let it be known that they would prefer the Barasat stadium as home. Should that happen, it will be a first that each team has its own ground in the I-League.

This will also be the first time that there is only one team from Goa, Churchill Brothers.

Five teams --- Neroca FC, Minerva Punjab FC, Sudeva FC, FC Bardez Goa and Chennai City FC --- submitted bids for entry into the I-League after fresh tenders were issued on November 25. The bids were evaluated on Sunday.

Of the new entrants, Minerva Punjab FC have played in the 2015-16 I-League second division where they finished second behind Dempo.