Winds of change: No I-League-ISL merger, AIFF proposes a three-tier league instead
Ending speculation around the merger of Indian Super League with I-League, the AIFF on Tuesday virtually recognised ISL as the country's premier league as per a new roadmap, which will have three more seven-month leagues in a hierarchical system from 2017 onwards.
New Delhi: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Tuesday announced a three-tier football structure, headed by a revamped Indian Super League (ISL), to be implemented from the 2017-18 season in a major overhaul of the game's domestic setup.
The top tier league in the new structure will be constituted of 10 or 12 teams. There will be no relegation from the ISL.
The ISL will be followed by a first division named League 1 and a second division called League 2. Both will have relegation and promotion. Both the divisions will have 10 teams each.
A final decision on the number of teams to be included in the ISL will be decided later. All the eight existing franchises will participate in the top tier league.
AIFF president Praful Patel said the rejig is aimed at reducing the "friction" between the ISL and the existing I-League.
The tenders for the additional teams will be invited later. An unspecified number of teams from the I-League may be incorporated in the ISL, though nothing has been decided as yet.
There was also no confirmation that Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and I-League champions Bengaluru FC may be included in the revamped ISL.
The 2017-18 ISL will take place from November to March 2018, instead of its usual October to December period as the Under-17 World Cup will take place in October.
The ISL will be held in a seven-month period from September to March from the 2018-19 season.
A meeting attended by officials from AIFF, ISL, I-League, I-League 2, Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) and official broadcaster Star Sports was held in New Delhi on Tuesday. Well-known Indian players such as former captain Bhaichung Bhutia and current star Sunil Chhetri were also present.
The League 1 and 2 will run parallel to the ISL, for a period of five months in the 2017-18 season and seven months thereafter.
All the participating clubs will have to fulfill the Club Licensing Criteria as per the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) guidelines.
The financial revenue obtained by the AIFF from the three-tier structure will be shared among all
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