Despite objection from some top clubs, the All India Football Federation today decided to put the cap on the number of matches a player can play in domestic tournaments, including the I-League, to 40.
The decision, which aims at keeping the number of matches a player can play in local leagues to the minimum, would hit hard big clubs like Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Dempo and Churchill Brothers.
It would reduce the number of matches their top players can play in the local league which, in turn, would affect the crowd presence.
Earlier, there was no limit on the number of matches a player can play but the Asian Football Confederation has been telling for some time that I-League players should not play in local leagues.
The federation, however, kept the foreign players out of the 40-match rule. The decision has been ratified by the AIFF Executive Committee.
"I-League players other than foreign players cannot play more than 40 domestic club matches for this season," an AIFF statement said.
"For the avoidance of doubt, Domestic Club Matches include I-League, Federation Cup, Durand Cup, IFA Shield, Local Leagues and other AIFF approved tournaments but does not include International club tournaments," it said.
Curiously, the AIFF said if a player takes field for less than 45 minutes in an I-League match, he can play in the local league that follows it.
"Any I-League Player who plays for less than 45 minutes in any I-League match during the season shall be eligible to play the immediately following Local League Match if any, during the season," the AIFF said.
The federation also decided to retain the same rule as followed last year regarding how many foreigners a club can registered.