The 2018-19 edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) brings with it a host of changes in the players’ registration and regulations. Continuing with its policy of raising the domestic participation within the clubs, the ISL has made a couple of welcome changes with regards to its youth and reserve team regulations.
Clubs are allowed to register a minimum of 22 players and a maximum of 25 in the main squad with seven spots reserved for overseas signings.
The upcoming season will see the concept of reserve and youth teams continue with all ISL clubs required to have a reserve and youth team comprising of players other than the ones in the main squad.
The most notable change comes in regards to the policy dealing with the elevation of players from the youth teams and the reserve teams.
Last year, the ISL allowed clubs to register a maximum of five youth players in the reserve squad, that too at the start of the season which did not really make sense. It showed that the players not picked initially wouldn't get a chance to be promoted even if they perform admirably for the reserve teams.
Moreover, it takes away the motivation for a club to invest in its youth as well. The franchises know the rest of the young players' performances don't really make a difference. Then why would they concentrate on their development?
It also takes away a chance for an exceptional young talent to announce himself to the world, much like how Marcus Rashford did at Manchester United during the 2015-16 season or how a Francis Coquelin or a Hector Bellerin did at Arsenal.
The coming season will see that cap removed with clubs now allowed to register as many youth team players in the reserve squad as they want.
Also, in the case of an injury to a domestic player in the main squad, the club is allowed to replace him with a member of the youth or reserve squads.
Hence, in theory, movement within the youth, reserve and main squads will be fairly open and clubs will be allowed plenty of leeway with regards to promoting young players.
The reserve teams will have to be entirely comprised of domestic players with their salaries not being included in the salary cap imposed on the clubs.
Additionally, clubs are allowed to change domestic players in their main squad after every fifth ISL match (excluding playoffs) and 24 hours before their next game. Therefore, an Indian player can be added/removed from the main squad every fifth match, tenth match and so on. This rule, however, has continued on from last season.
Now it remains to be seen if the clubs can take advantage of these rules to promote and invest in their youth players.