Baichung Bhutia said that expanding the Indian Super League team is not an issue but asserted that both ISL and I-League need to be seven months, otherwise it will be unfair on the latter.
In an interview to Hindustan Times, former India captain Bhutia said, “Increasing the number of ISL teams is no problem; it is very welcome since it will increase the employment opportunities for Indian players.”
Bhutia, who is an adviser to All India Football Federation (AIFF), said that if ISL is going to have more teams, it will also lead to tighter schedules. However, this should not hinder on the development of I-League.
“But if you are going to have more teams playing within three or four months, schedules are going to be even tighter. So they will have to give it more time. But if they give seven months to ISL and have only three months for I-League, it will be unfair. Both leagues have to be seven months and they have to be conducted simultaneously,” he said.
Bhutia suggested that ISL teams can be given a chance to qualify for AFC Champions League through a knockout Super Cup. “Four top teams from I-League and four top teams from ISL directly go into the Super Cup. The next four teams in each league can have a play-off from which four can be shortlisted for the Super Cup. Then the Super Cup is played in a knockout format and the winner can take the AFC slot.”
“At the moment we have the Federation Cup, but it can be replaced by the Super Cup so ISL teams can also qualify for AFC competitions,” he said.