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The criticism must stop now that the AIFF has finally revealed the roadmap

08:21 GMT+3 14/10/2019
Praful Patel AIFF
The roadmap for Indian football has come up with a solution for the issues raised by the stakeholders...

The much-awaited roadmap for Indian football was finally unveiled by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and subsequently approved by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Monday in Kuala Lumpur.

The AIFF had received a lot of criticism over the lack of clarity over the same for some time now and after considering the demands of all the parties involved, the Indian FA has finally found middle ground.

The roadmap suggests that the Indian Super League (ISL) winners will get an AFC Champions League (ACL) playoff spot from this season while the I-League winners will be given the AFC Cup playoff slot.

The ISL, which becomes the top tier of Indian football, will be open for the I-League winners to join from the 2022-23 season onwards and it will be an open league with promotion and relegation after the tenth season.

The I-League clubs who join the ISL from 2023 season will not have to pay any franchise fee but they will also not get any share from ISL's central pool of revenue. The bare minimum criteria for the I-League clubs to join the ISL will be to match the required standards of the league, such as stadium facilities and infrastructure. 

Also from the 2024-25 season, the ISL and the AIFF's knockout cup winners will get the continental slots as I-League will officially become India's second division.

The AIFF, which was vehemently criticised for supposed mistreatment towards the I-League clubs since the beginning of this year, has finally managed to come up with a solution. The roadmap not only says that the ISL’s closed league structure will cease to exist in the next four years, but it has also made sure that the I-League clubs need not pay any franchise fee.

The franchise fee and ISL’s promotion and relegation have been the major point of contention between the I-League club representatives and the Indian FA.

The AIFF under the leadership of president Praful Patel has done a commendable job in finding a middle ground to ensure that the interests of both parties are taken care of. Patel after meeting the I-League club representatives in July 2019 had promised to find a solution and assured the I-League clubs that they will not be neglected in any way.

The Indian FA chief has kept his promise and it is time the criticisms that the AIFF was receiving should stop and credit must be given where it is due.