It has emerged that the proposed merger between the I-League and the Indian Super League may not take place in the near future. Instead, according to PTI, the All India Football Federation decided that the I-League will remain India’s official top-tier tournament for the next two-three years. PTI also quoted an AIFF official as saying that while the I-League remains the official league, the ISL will be played over seven months and the matches will be played only on weekend.
On the other hand, the AIFF didn’t mention a time frame in its official statement. “(AIFF president) Mr. Patel informed the representatives that the revised roadmap of Indian football has not yet been finalised and before a final decision is taken, stakeholders including the Asian Football Confederation would be consulted,” said the AIFF.
Earlier, it was mooted that the AIFF and IMG-Reliance would be overseeing a merger between the ISL and the I-League. According to the new format, the ISL was supposed to be the official top tier of Indian football while the I-League would be second. The only I-League clubs to be allowed in the reformed ISL was reported to be Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Bengaluru FC. Moreover, promotion and relegation between the top two tiers were not to happen for the next few years at least.
But Aizawl FC threw a spanner in the works when they marched to a shock maiden I-League title in 2017. The idea of the national league champions facing the possibility of being relegated to the second tier with no option of entering the top tier for an indefinite future prompted Aizawl to threaten to go on hunger-strikes.