AIFF yet to decide on this season’s I-League winners making direct entry in ISL

The AIFF will take some more time to decide on whether this year’s I-League champions will directly qualify for next season of Indian Super League.

(Representative Image) AIFF yet to decide on this season’s I-League winners making direct entry in ISL.

(Representative Image) AIFF yet to decide on this season’s I-League winners making direct entry in ISL. | Photo Credit: Bradley Kanaris

The AIFF will take some more time to decide on whether this year’s I-League champions will directly qualify for next season of Indian Super League.

The AIFF will take some more time to decide on whether this year’s I-League champions will directly qualify for next season of Indian Super League as there are some “lacunae” in the “regulations” of the league on the matter.

According to the roadmap approved in 2019 with the involvement of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and agreed to by the stakeholders, the I-League champion team of this season (2022-23) as well as that of next year (2023-24) was to get direct slot in the corresponding next season of top-tier ISL.

The promotion and relegation system was to kick in the ISL from 2024-25 season onwards.

All India Football Federation Secretary General Shaji Prabhakaran said in a press conference here that its legal team is looking into the I-League regulations and will take a decision on the issue in a few days.

“We will come back once the regulations (of I-League on the issue) are finalised. Our legal team is working on it and in a few days time, we will be taking a call on the matter,” he said.

Asked what are the regulations he was referring to, Prabhakaran said, “Every competition has regulations. It is an exhaustive document which provides all the obligations, responsibilities, governance, structure, financial obligations etc.

“That work, we started after we get the broadcasters. There were also some technical aspects which were taking some time (to resolve).” The I-League, which begins on November 12, will be telecast live by two channels -- Eurosport and DD Sports -- and will be live-streamed on the Discovery Plus OTT platform.

“There are some lacunae in the regulations (concerning the I-League). We have to sort it out first,” Prabhakaran said later.

When reminded that the AFC was also involved in framing the road map which envisaged upcoming I-League season winners getting direct entry in the ISL next year, he said, “We have to tell the AFC the issues which are there in the I-League regulations framed before we took charge.” Asked if it was a case of paucity of time to take decision as the new office bearers were elected just two months back, Prabhakaran said, “The regulations of the league are exhaustive and there are so many aspects.

“Our legal team started work only this month. They (legal team) are working of drafting and finalising it. We are confident that we will announce a decision is a few days.” He said the I-League committee has decided that all the decisions concerning next season will be taken at the end of this season so that the clubs will have enough time for preparation and planning.

“This season is going to be a far better one for I-League teams because it has never happened that two channels are broadcasting the matches. Quality broadcasting, quality production will be there.” Prabhakaran said the AIFF has been working with its marketing partner and ISL organisers FSDL, which has helped it in getting the two broadcasters.

“There is considerable investment coming from our marketing partner. They have helped in getting the broadcasters and we are working as a team.” AIFF Deputy Secretary General Sunando Dhar was happy that the fans will return to the stadia after two years in the I-League. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the I-League matches were played behind close doors for the later part of the 2019-20 and the whole of 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons.

“Playing under the bio-bubble was most difficult especially for the players in the last two years. It is good to have fans this season,” he said.

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