I-League clubs reluctant to give away AFC Champions League spot

Six I-League clubs have also asked for a tripartite agreement outlining the way forward be signed among AIFF, I-League clubs and FSDL for the upcoming three years to avoid recurring confrontations among the stakeholders.

East Bengal , Mohun Bagan, Churchill Brothers , Aizwal FC , Minerva Punjab FC and Gokulam Kerala FC have outlined a roadmap for Indian football for the next three years. (FILE IMAGE)   -  Twitter @Mohun_Bagan

Six I-League clubs are reluctant to give up the AFC Champions League slot that is currently allocated to the I-League.

The I-League champion, as of now, plays the AFC Asian Champions League (ACL) qualifiers. The current arrangement, on India's request, is to give the  AFC Asian Champions League (ACL) slot to I-League winner and an AFC Cup slot to the Indian Super League (ISL) champion. The AIFF is looking to reverse this arrangement which would automatically make ISL the official main league of the country.

ISL was granted an AFC Cup slot in 2017 and the I-League clubs want the same arrangement to continue till there is one unified league.

The six clubs — Quess East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Churchill Brothers, Aizwal FC, Minerva Punjab FC and Gokulam Kerala FC — have also asked for a tripartite agreement outlining the way forward be signed among AIFF, I-League clubs and FSDL for the upcoming three years to avoid recurring confrontations among the stakeholders.

Here is the roadmap agreed by the I-League clubs for the next three years:

1. A Tripartite agreement to be signed between AIFF, FSDL and I-League clubs giving details for the arrangement for the next 3 years.

2. I-League to be referred to as the National Football League of India.

3. I-League Champions to get AFC Champions League slot.

4. I-League Committee to be formed immediately with representatives from AIFF and I-League clubs. This Committee would be solely responsible for taking decisions regarding I-League, 2nd Division league and Youth Leagues.

5. All matches of I-League to be shown live on HD Channel with improved production quality. (8 camera set up with specifications mentioned previously.)

6. I-League Committee shall negotiate and finalize the production house. 50% of the total cost of production to be borne by FSDL with the remaining 50% to be paid by AIFF.

7. I-League matches to be played at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. kick-off timings. (For non-floodlight venues kick-off timings to be 2 p.m./3 p.m.)

8. Working Group to be formed with representations from AIFF, FSDL, I-League clubs and ISL clubs who would plan to introduce a unified league involving both I-League and ISL clubs with promotion and relegation.

9. This would ensure that the top Indian players end up playing 45-50 matches annually, which is in line with the best global practice and is a minimum requirement for overall technical development of any player. (Currently, the top Indian players get to play a maximum of 25-28 matches in a season.)

10. The roadmap needs to be approved by the AIFF Executive Committee and should be simultaneously announced, giving all details including the present status of I-League and ISL also the future plan.

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