As a direct consequence, the best players in the country have opted to ply their trade in the cash-rich ISL. It must be noted that the winner of the ISL would only get to play in the AFC Cup play-offs while the I-League champion would compete in the AFC Champions League play-off.
Despite the fact that the prize on offer is much bigger from a sporting perspective, most of the top talent in the country will play in the ISL in the 2017-18 season.
One look at Stephen Constantine’s India squad for the upcoming 2019 Asian Cup qualifier and only four players who shall play in the I-League make the cut.
Salam Ranjan, Nikhil Poojary, Mohammed Rafique (East Bengal) and Alen Deory (Shillong Lajong) are among those who would play for the I-League teams. Incidentally, no player from Mohun Bagan will be a part of the Indian national team.
It must also be noted that the above mentioned players are part of the I-League teams only because they had long term contracts. Had that not been the case, they too, like their colleagues, would have jumped ship to be a part of the ISL.
Is this a sign of the times to come?
GOALKEEPERS: Subrata Paul (Jamshedpur FC), Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Bengaluru FC), Amrinder Singh (Mumbai City FC), Vishal Kaith (FC Pune City)
DEFENDERS: Pritam Kotal (Delhi Dynamos), Sandesh Jhingan, Lalruatthara (Kerala Blasters), Nishu Kumar (Bengaluru FC), Anas Edathodika (Jamshedpur FC), Salam Ranjan Singh (East Bengal) , Sarthak Golui (FC Pune City) Jerry Lalrinzuala (Chennaiyin FC), Narayan Das (FC Goa)
MIDFIELDERS: Jackichand Singh (Kerala Blasters), Udanta Singh (Bengaluru FC), Nikhil Poojary (East Bengal), Eugeneson Lyngdoh (Atletico de Kolkata), Rowllin Borges (NorthEast United), Md. Rafique (East Bengal), Anirudh Thapa, Germanpreet Singh (Chennaiyin FC) Halicharan Narzary (NorthEast United)
FORWARDS: Balwant Singh (Mumbai City FC), Alen Deory (Shillong Lajong), Jeje Lalpekhlua (Chennaiyin FC), Sunil Chhetri (Bengaluru FC), Hitesh Sharma (Atletico de Kolkata), CK Vineeth