Bengaluru FC picks up ISL bid documents

Bengaluru FC picked up the ’Invitation to Bid’ documents of the Indian Super League, expressing interest to own a franchise in the tournament which is set to be expanded with the addition of a maximum of three teams this season.

Bengaluru FC won the I-League in 2013-14 and 2015-16 seasons while finishing second in 2014-15.   -  PTI

A day after the All-India Football Federation (AIFF) and its commercial partners IMG-Reliance (IMG-R) invited bids for additional teams for the Indian Super League (ISL) from the 2017-18 season, JSW, owner of I-League club Bengaluru FC, has picked up the bid document for the team from Bengaluru.

Though the move doesn’t mean that JSW will necessarily own a team, as it may choose to not submit the documents in the event of there being no clarity from the AIFF on the restructuring of Indian football, it does re-iterate the group’s longstanding interest in being part of a league which the AIFF wants to make the top-tier. The bid documents are to be submitted by May 25.

AIFF’s decision to call for new teams came after the proposed merger of ISL and I-League fell through last week with both the Kolkata giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan objecting. Aizawl FC, the reigning I-League champion, had demanded a berth in the top tier of the merged league even as the initial discussions had only considered the fancied teams from the I-League—Bengaluru FC, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.

The AIFF had then decided to continue the present status of the two tournaments with I-League remaining the official league but ISL expanding to seven months. However, in a season where the FIFA Under-17 World Cup will conclude only in the last week of October, to follow that with an expanded ISL and then an I-League will be cutting it too fine.

In the event of having both the leagues run concurrently, the same set of players will not be able to turn up both for their I-League and ISL clubs as it is at present. The decision will also have a bearing on who will avail themselves of the two continental berths reserved for the country’s I-League and Federation Cup champions in the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup.

The AIFF is expected to approach the AFC soon to make its restructuring plans formal. But until such time, clubs like Bengaluru FC will have to wait and watch. Mustafa Ghouse, CEO, JSW Sports, was unavailable for comment.

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