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Indian Football: Super League idea may not see light of the day

7:47 AM GMT+8 11/06/2017
Praful Patel, Kushal Das and Subrata Dutt posing with the coveted award in AFC Annual Awards Abu Dhabi 2016
The Super League proposed by a senior official of the AIFF is unlikely to be approved…

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) discussed the idea of a Super League at the end of the I-League and the Indian Super League (ISL) season which would then determine who would make the cut into the AFC competitions, namely the Asian Champions League (ACL) and the AFC Cup play-offs.

At the end of the meeting, AIFF President Praful Patel mentioned to the I-League that the matter will be discussed with their commercial and marketing partners, IMG-Reliance as well.

There are several roadblocks with the mooted plan of the Super League which we shall now discuss:


The I-League and the ISL would only commence on November 17 and come to a close in March. The Indian national team are to participate in the SAFF Championship from May 1-12 and coach Stephen Constantine will in all probability ask for a national camp 10 days before the tournament. This would see the AIFF face a conundrum on how to complete a minimum of 14 matches for eight teams in the Super League in less than two months time. They would have to extend the league season into the month of June in that case.

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Sporting Reasons:

Neither the I-League or the ISL champion would be guaranteed a spot in the AFC competitions. If the I-League clubs were serious about making into the AFC competitions, they wouldn’t accept the idea of a Super League as many would believe that ISL teams have a better chance of winning both slots for the AFC tournaments due to their financial power and ability to attract the best Indian and foreign talent.

I-League would be an attractive property to invest, not the ISL:

Shelling out a franchise fee is one of the key elements when comes to playing in the ISL. The very same money is then used for marketing and promotional activities including the production cost. Should there be a Super League, you would have a scenario where the top four I-League clubs would get the best possible broadcast, promotion alongside teams who pay at least 15 crores for the same.

It would basically fulfil the demands of the Kolkata clubs, namely Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, who wanted to be a part of the ISL but not having to pay the franchise fee and also plying their trade from the city of Kolkata.

In this case, why would anyone want to be a part of the ISL when you can avail of the same benefits without having to pay a franchise fee and play a league (14 games per team) which would give me an equal opportunity to compete for the AFC competitions slot?

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Brand Dilution for ISL:

The matchday experience of the ISL is way different than what one is accustomed to in other competitions in India. The operational cost of an I-League team on a matchday is less than what an ISL club spends. They wouldn’t raise their budget just because they have an opportunity to play against an ISL team in the Super League. In case of a Super League, you would have an ISL team play against an I-League team where the stadium isn’t in the best condition nor the organisation would meet their standards.