Chhetri surprised by talk of I-League-ISL merger

Bengaluru FC (BFC) and India captain Sunil Chhetri, who was part of the discussions held on the matter recently, said that as it stands now, the plan is still in the nascent stages.

Sunil Chhetri scored two goals in Bengaluru FC's AFC Cup win over Kitchee SC.   -  Special Arrangement

Recent reports which suggest that the I-League and Indian Super League (ISL) are likely to be merged have taken Sunil Chhetri by surprise.

Bengaluru FC (BFC) and India captain Chhetri, who was part of the discussions held on the matter recently, said that as it stands now, the plan is still in the nascent stages.

"When I attended that meeting, we were told not to talk about it, because the idea of merging the I-League and the ISL was supposed to be just a first draft. But the very next day, all the newspapers had reported on the matter. A first draft is something which has been proposed, and which needs further discussion. I want to hold my thoughts on the matter for now," Chhetri said, in an event held to celebrate BFC's I-League and the AFC Cup success, at the PUMA Social Club here on Friday.

Asked what else was discussed at the meeting, the striker replied, "It was an informal meeting where a lot of ideas were proposed. It was good to see all the stakeholders come together and speak their mind. All the big names of Indian football were present. As for me, I stressed on the need to establish a strong grassroot structure in the country."

In a separate development, it has emerged that Chhetri and other BFC players may be forced to miss the club's AFC Cup quarterfinal fixture, as it clashes with their ISL commitment. "I don't know; there's no clarity yet. I hope that both parties can resolve the issue, because when BFC plays in the AFC Cup, it feels like we are representing the country," the 31-year-old said.