ISL could kick-off in August next season to accommodate World Cup qualifiers

It is unlikely that India will play an international friendly in September this year as Koevermans isn’t sure of his players’ match fitness…

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) and representatives from IMG-Reliance met at the Football House on Thursday to mull over the calendar for the 2015-16 season.

With FIFA allotting 27 days between August 31st to November 17th 2015 to play international friendlies or official matches, it is believed that the second edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) could kick-off in August and come to close by December second week next year.

Given that India are to play the first round of 2018 World Cup qualifiers, i.e. eight games between June to November 2015, IMG-Reliance would need a bigger window for ISL than the three months allotted for its inaugural edition.

Also the fact that India coach Wim Koevermans would ask for longer camps, more than the 27 days allotted by FIFA in the month of September, October and November, AIFF and their marketing and commercial partners are in discussion to come up with a calendar which would best suit everyone’s needs.

It is reliably learnt that the AIFF suggested the next edition of the ISL kick-off in February 2016, something which didn’t go down well with the organizers and hence wasn’t agreed upon.

"We suggested that the second edition of ISL kick-off in February 2016 but that wasn't agreed. IMG-Reliance would need a bigger window for the second edition of ISL because of World Cup qualifiers," said a top AIFF official.

Meanwhile, Koevermans isn’t keen on playing an international friendly in September this year as he is yet to know how many of the national team players would ply their trade in ISL and what those not participating in the said competition would be up to.

Whether India play in the month of October and November would be decided only by September once Koevermans takes stock of the situation.

The two parties are expected to meet once again in a month’s time to take a final decision on the above mentioned issues.