I-League clubs want 20-team 'Indian Football League'

I-league clubs have proposed a road-map for a unified league featuring both the I-League and Indian Super League clubs.

Chennai City FC and Bengaluru FC

Newly crowned I-League and ISL champions, Chennai City FC and Bengaluru FC.   -  AIFF MEDIA/ VIVEK BENDRE

I-League football clubs on Wednesday have proposed a unified 'Indian Football League' as the way forward for Indian football.

Newly crowned champion Chennai City FC, Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Minerva Punjab, Aizawl FC, Gokulam Kerala, Real Kashmir FC, Churchill Brothers and NEROCA FC have put forth a proposal to the AIFF for a 20-team league which will have both Indian Super League and I-League clubs.

READ | I-League, ISL merger will affect Indian football ecosystem, says AIFF general secretary

"There will be 20 teams in the first division and a strong 16-team second division. Every team will benefit and we have given a financial model so that it's a sustainable project. Not like ISL (project) because they are suffering huge losses. We don't want to lose ISL clubs, because they are supporting Indian football by investing money. They should stay!" Debasish Dutta, one of the directors at Mohun Bagan, told media persons here during Chennai City's trophy presentation ceremony.

Key points proposed by I-League clubs

  • A 20-team professional league — Indian Football League — which runs for a duration of nine months
  • Cup games to be played during game weeks.
  • Marketing of the league must be done centrally
  • Promotion and relegation to be implemented with no exemptions
  • Parachute payment to be made to relegated sides
  • A maximum of four foreigners in each team
  • Mandatory signing of players from home states
  • Strong youth development projects for all teams

Chennai City owner Rohit Ramesh said, "This is a good way to play as far as the sport is concerned. We aren't omitting anybody, we want to play against everyone. But, it should be in a manner where the money we put in has to be got back in some time."

Both Ramesh and Dutta claimed their respective clubs will play the Super Cup once they are assured of a meeting with AIFF president Praful Patel and reach a consensus on the future of Indian football.

"We have handed the proposal with a covering letter. We are ready to play the Super Cup after the meeting and if at all it happens, the Super Cup should start from the qualifying round," said Dutta.

The ISL is set to become the top-flight football league in the country according to a pre-existing contract between the AIFF and its marketing partner Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL). "Sacrifices have to be made somewhere so that everyone benefits from it," said Ranjit Bajaj, owner of Minerva Punjab.


Financial suggestions put forward

  • Generate a total net sponsorship revenue of INR 325 crores, even by a conservative estimate
  • The revenue to be divided thus:

          - 20 teams x 12 crores = 240 crores

          - Pool amount to AIFF = 50 crores

          - 16 second division teams x 2 crores = 32 crores

          - Parachute payment for two relegated teams x 2 crores = 4 crores

  • Mandatory 10 per cent of the team's budget to be spent on youth development in line with the AFC Club licensing criteria
  • Each team to pay INR 2 crore participation fee to AIFF/FSDL and no other participation fee.


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