Two new clubs to get direct entry into the I-League next season

In order to take football out of the traditional hotbeds in India, the Indian FA have invited bids for two slots in the nation’s top division league next season...

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) have invited bids for the two available positions, which will be closed by March, for the next edition of the I-League.

Despite in its sixth season, the I-League isn’t yet pan-Indian and in order to address the same, the Indian FA are keen to grant a direct slot to any commercial entity who shall fulfil certain basic norms.

"The clubs will be outside Goa and Kolkata as we want to make the league pan-Indian. But the clubs will have to come with the commitment to build infrastructure. Clubs need to have their own stadium. The bids will be finalised in March so that the new teams get an opportunity to choose players,” Praful Patel, the AIFF president, was quoted saying.

Air India and ONGC are in all likelihood set to be shown door from the I-League given that they have failed to meet the deadline of December 31, 2012 for fulfilling the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) club licensing criterion. It must be noted that the AFC had earlier set the last date as December 31, 2011 however on Patel’s insistence, the deadline was extended for another year. However the two institutional clubs have requested for more time for them to register themselves as a legal entity as the decision on the same needs to be allegedly taken by the Indian Parliament. It must also be noted that Praful Patel was the Civil Aviation Minister when Air India were asked to comply with the AFC norms but not much progress was made back then.

"We have been at the receiving end of AFC because of them. We have lost points for earning berths in the Champions League. So, the decision will be taken keeping in the mind the interest of Indian football,” said Patel as he referred to India missing out on the crucial Asian Champions League (ACL) spot for failing to meet the essential criterion.

Meanwhile, the names of Mumbai’s Dodsal FC and Pune’s DSK Shivajians are in the fray to fill in the slots available in next season’s I-League.

"Yes, we have spoken to AIFF about that particular plan, but nothing on paper yet. I mean they are in the process of finalizing it and I learnt today that the decision will be made only in March. But as of now we have only had discussions related to the same,” said Shirish Kulkarni, Executive Director, DSK Shivajians told

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