The rules for the Indian player draft of next edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) has been finalised, with the franchises given the option of retaining a maximum of five players before the player draft, Goal has reliably learnt.
There has been a considerable amount of interest in the draft rules since the ISL has been expanded to be a ten team, five months long league this season, with former I-League champions Bengaluru FC and a Tata Steel-owned team coming into the fold.
It has also been learnt that the draft will possibly be held on 23rd July 2017.
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As per the guidelines shared with the clubs, a team can opt to retain a maximum of two senior players and three U21 players before going into the draft. Which means the teams, with the exception of Tata Steel franchise, can hold on to at least two of their best players plus three promising prospects.
However, there is a catch here. If any of the U21 players retained have an international cap to their name, they will be considered as a senior player which will impact when a team can enter the draft. For example, if a team retains two senior players and three uncapped U21 players, they can enter the draft in the third round. If another team retains two senior players and one U21 player who has an international cap, they can join the draft only in the fourth round.
This rule is to make the process more fair on Tata Steel, who have to build a team from scratch.
As far as squad restrictions are concerned, the maximum squad size will be of 25 players and must contain a minimum of seven foreign players and 15 Indian players. However, a team can only have a maximum of eight foreigners. While signing the first seven foreigners, a franchise should get authorisation from the league but it is not required for the eighth foreigner.
The salary cap for each team (both Indian and foreign players) has been set at ₹18 Crores and only a maximum of ₹12.5 Crores can be utilised to sign overseas players. Interestingly, if a team opts to sign a marquee player, his wages will not be counted in the salary cap.
As far as Indian players are concerned, the franchises must sign them during the draft itself. To ensure this, ISL has already asked the teams to submit a list of at least five players they are looking to retain. Also, clubs can retain players on long contracts, much like Bengaluru FC did with Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh, tying them down on three-year deals.
The last date for retention of players is July 7th and a franchise can also opt not to retain anybody and enter the draft in the first round.
Also, in case of players like CK Vineeth, who played the last season of ISL for Kerala Blasters on loan from Bengaluru FC, the parent club (BFC in this case) had the first option to retain the player. As they opted not to, the other club (Kerala Blasters here) can retain him. If Blasters don't do so, the player will move into the draft pool or he will have to ply his trade for an I-League club.
Now that there is clarity on how the draft will take place, the teams can start plotting their strategy on how to go about the draft in what is set to be a very important season for a variety of reasons.