The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has said players want the Indian Super League (ISL) and I-League to be held simultaneously. It is believed that even AIFF president Praful Patel is in favour of conducting the two leagues together. Both the leagues are likely to run simultaneously for five months.
AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said Football Players Association of India (FPAI) conducted a survey in which they have expressed their desire to play parallel leagues. The details of the survey was presented by FPAI president Renedy Singh and former head Baichung Bhutia during the high-profile meeting with FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Wednesday.
The AIFF’s executive committee met again in Mumbai on Thursday but the status of the domestic structure remained ambiguous as ever.
However, Das hinted that as a short-term solution, the ISL and I-League could be played together. “Players have a very clear view. That was expressed in the meeting yesterday (Wednesday). The players have said very categorically, Baichung and Renedy showed us that through their survey that they would like to play parallel leagues,” Das said after the executive committee meeting.
India captain Sunil Chhetri said it would help in generating more employment for the players. “I don’t mind two leagues being held separate and at the same time as more players will get to play and will not be idle,” Chhetri was quoted as saying by PTI.
“If something like that does go ahead, the good thing would mean 10 teams in I League, 10 teams in ISL, you have 20 teams playing. That’s a good thing. We are talking about so many players getting employed somewhere,” he added.
Till last season, the ISL was held from October to December followed by I-League from January to May. According to the new proposal, I-League and ISL will be played together.
To keep I-League as the premier tournament, its winners will be given an AFC Champions League (ACL) playoff spot while ISL champions will be awarded AFC Cup playoff berth. This will only be a temporary solution although Das said he ‘did not know’ what the eventual short-term plan will be.
Patel will meet I-League club officials in Delhi on Saturday, where he is likely to take a final call on this season.