The Indian Super League (ISL) has been given a shot in the arm as the winner of the competition would now get an opportunity to compete in the AFC Cup, Goal can confirm.
Following the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) Executive Committee Meeting on Thursday in Mumbai where its President Praful Patel batted for the ISL and the I-League to be run simultaneously, it was also decided that an AFC Cup play-off would now be allocated to the winner of the ISL as opposed to the Federation Cup.
It must be noted that the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) had asked the AIFF to decide on the league structure at least for the coming season as soon as possible.
This means that the ISL is no more a private tournament but a recognised league under the aegis of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), AFC and FIFA.
The AIFF and their commercial and marketing partners, namely IMG-Reliance, met AFC General Secretary Dato Windsor and Alex Philips, Head of AFC- UEFA Affairs at UEFA on May 8 in Bahrain where it was decided that the ISL winner would get a chance to ply their trade in the AFC Cup play-off stage as Goal had revealed.
The AIFF Executive Committee meeting was convened after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) proposed four different scenarios to the AIFF with respect to the domestic football structure. The four options AFC suggested to the AIFF are detailed here.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) stated that a long-term roadmap for Indian football needs to be agreed upon by the end of October this year.
Patel is expected to meet representatives from Mohun Bagan and East Bengal on Saturday in Delhi where he would assure the I-League clubs of improved TV coverage and the top league status, underlined by the ACL playoff spot on offer for the winner.
According to a source within the AIFF ranks, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal would ply their trade in the I-League and not the ISL in the 2017-18 season owing to them failing to agree on the basic premise of playing in a franchise-based competition which is to shell out a franchisee fee and not being open to play from a different city other than Kolkata.
Meanwhile, Indian Super League will announce its two new franchises before India's AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Kyrgyzstan on June 13th.