Bids have been invited from some of the major cities in the country like Bengaluru, Trivandrum, Mumbai, New Delhi, Ranchi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bhopal, Lucknow, Ahmedabad and Malappuram.
As per rules of governing body, the winning bidders will be allowed to take part in the country’s elite league from 2017 season onwards.
Speaking about the invitation of new bids, I-League CEO Sunanda Dhar said: “We are looking forward to welcoming vibrant outfits in Hero I-League. The new entrants will surely bring newer challenges and fresh football dynamics which would provide more competitiveness and thrill to the league.”
I-League had 10 teams last season and Mumbai FC were relegated for finishing bottom in the league. The Mumbai outfit has been replaced I-League 2 champions Neroca FC who were promoted to the premier division.
In a jolt to the I-League, the two time champions Bengaluru FC have switched leagues and will be competing in the Indian Super League (ISL) from the forthcoming season. The JSW owned outfit have been a powerhouse in the I-League in their four year stay.
With Bengaluru opting to move out, a spot has been left vacant and AIFF wants to fill up the position with another team as soon as possible.
The decision to invite bids from cities like Ranchi, Jaipur, Bhopal, Lucknow and Malappuram is indeed a great initiative taken by the AIFF. The I-League has never seen a team from the above mentioned cities.
It has also been a long time since a club from the national capital New Delhi has taken part in the country’s premier league. A Delhi based outfit would be a welcome return.
Fans across the country will be keen to see which city finally gets an I-League team.