I-League above ISL in draft
The three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA), which runs the day-to-day activities of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), has in the final draft of the new constitution made I-League the premier league of the country, a proposal that has met with resistance from all member-associations except the one in Goa.
“Yes, everyone, barring Goa Football Association, had unanimously agreed that ISL being relegated to the No. 2 position is not good for football,” an official told The Telegraph on Saturday.
“We already have a contract with FSDL (which runs ISL) till 2025. So why get into a conflict unnecessarily? Can you imagine how much compensation AIFF would have to pay to FSDL for a breach of contract? It will go bankrupt,” he added.
The 328-page final draft was submitted to the Supreme Court on Friday. The member- associations have filed a petition in the apex court listing their reservations on several points, including giving I-League the status of the “seniormost league”.
The draft has been accessed by The Telegraph.
The AIFF and Reliance, which controls FSDL, signed a Master Rights Agreement (MRA) in 2010 and the ISL started four years later. Within a few years, ISL became the No.1 league in the land with the winners earning a slot in the AFC Champions League.
The I-League champions, on the other hand, play in the second-tier AFC Cup. The 11-team ISL is a closed league with no promotion or relegation.
The CoA, in its comment, has said: “‘Seniormost top division league’ shall mean the league competition owned, operated, recognized and directly managed by the AIFF, that implements the principles of promotion and relegation, and meets all requirements prescribed by the AFC for being eligible to obtain a direct slot in the Asian Champions League.” Overall management, it has added, must be with the AIFF itself.
The Durand Cup organisers have announced that the 131st edition will begin with the ATK Mohun Bagan versus East Bengal Derby on August 16 though the latter is yet to sign an agreement with its potential investor.
Bengal, Assam and Manipur will play host with Salt Lake Stadium hosting the final on September 18.
Twenty teams will be seen in action. Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati and Imphal’s Khuman Lampak Stadium will be the newest hosts alongside the Santoshpur Stadium in Calcutta and the Naihati Stadium in North 24-Parganas.
FC Goa are the defending champions and Mohammedan Sporting came second.
“We wanted to expand the reach and we are happy to do that,” lieutenant general KK Repswal, chairman of the organising committee, said. Spectators will be allowed for the entire length of the tournament for the first time since the pandemic broke in 2020.