AIFF aims to restructure Indian football, longer ISL among planned reforms

Mumbai: In its bid to restructure the country's football, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has formed a task force and one of the decisions taken is to hold the popular Indian Super League (ISL) over a longer period, according to its General Secretary Kushal Das.

 AIFF aims to restructure Indian football, longer ISL among planned reforms

The AIFF logo. Twitter/@IndianFootball

"We are trying to restructure Indian football where the ISL will be longer, there will be league one and two next year, and next season everything will start after the U-17 World Cup, if everything works according to plan," Das told reporters on the sidelines of an event.

"So we have a task force with representatives from AFC (Asian Football Confederation) and (world body) Fifa to guide us on this issue. It is definitely a complicated matter, there are legacy clubs who are around for long time," he added.

Although he did not say in so many words, he indicated that from next season ISL would be the main league, a status currently enjoyed by I-League, to be played across more months, instead of the current two-and-a-half month period.

"It is a difficult task, we are working on it. There would be a lot of pain and heartburns and rightly so. Some of the legacy clubs, who have been around for many years, would feel that they are unjustifiably taken out of the top league, but this is something we have to do for the sake of Indian football," he added.

Das said AIFF is trying its best to get this off ground next season but the complications existed.

"These instances are there in other countries also. We would like to try and finalise something by February-March," he said when asked about any specific deadline fixed for this.

"The problem is there are certain aspects of ISL or top leagues which need to be followed. If you have seen the ISL the spectator attendance have been fantastic and again I know some of the clubs will object to that and some of the legacy clubs have not been able to create the fan base and that's a fact.

"Hence, we are allowing them to participate in the next league, make a sustainable model for them, create a fan base and come up. For some time, there won't be any promotion, relegation, in due course it would be an open league, it wont be a close league and that is the idea," Das added.

Das also announced that Bank of Baroda will be the first national supporter for the Fifa Under-17 World Cup to be held in the country next year.

Talking about the upcoming I-League, which will see Churchill Brothers of Goa make a comeback and two new teams added to fill in for those clubs which have left the league, Das said it was good to have outfits representing Punjab and Tamil Nadu in the league this season.

"Churchill Brothers actually had to come in because of a Court directive. We all thought it would be important to have team from Goa, (as) a few other teams had decided not to participate in I-league.

"Getting Minerva (I-League team from Punjab) is a great thing. We are getting Punjab back in the I-league and also there is a team from Chennai. We have seen that the crowd for Chennaiyin FC matches was good. We are hopeful that Chennai city will be able to create that kind of fan-base. It is great that footprint is widening."

"We have got a directive from AFC about club licencing. Unless these clubs, Air India and ONGC, form separate entities which they cannot because of restriction in their constitution, we cannot take them as we will not fulfil the licencing criteria which means the I-league would be then derecognised by AFC," said Das.

Updated Date: Dec 19, 2016 20:11:32 IST