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Indian Football: Direct swap between ISL and I-League AFC competitions slot

10:58 AM EDT 7/2/19
ISL 2018-19 trophy
The winners of the Indian Super League will get a spot in the AFC Champions League qualifying while the I-League winners a direct AFC Cup slot...

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is all set to announce the Indian Super League (ISL) as the top tier of Indian football by granting the winners of the tournament a slot in Asian Football Confederations (AFC) Champions League preliminary qualifiers from the next season.

This means that the I-League, which was till date the top tier league of the country, will get the second tier status and the winners of it get a slot in the AFC Cup.

Until now, the champions of the I-League would get a slot in the qualifiers of the AFC Champions League and an automatic slot in the AFC Cup in case they lose their qualifying game. The ISL winners since 2017-18 season would get a slot in the AFC Cup play-offs.

There has been a lot of hue and cry over AIFF’s plan of making ISL the top tier league and relegating I-League to the second tier. Most of the I-League clubs have been at loggerheads with the parent body of Indian football since March this year. Six out of 10 I-League clubs had boycotted the Super Cup in protest.  

The representatives of the rebel I-League clubs recently met and unanimously decided to drag the AIFF to court if they decided to elevate ISL.

AIFF president Praful Patel will be meeting the I-League clubs on July 3 in New Delhi to further, discuss the issue at hand.

As per a proposed roadmap of the AIFF in 2016 which had a three-tier league in India, ISL stands at the top with AFC Champions League slot followed by League One (I-League) AFC Cup slot and Super Cup a third slot in the continental competition. But the AFC have categorically denied the third slot to India.

"ISL is likely to get the AFC Champions League slot from the upcoming season. We will seat with all the stakeholders of Indian football soon and try to find a way out amicably. This a stop-gap solution for the next two seasons,” a senior AIFF official told Goal.

This decision will be officially taken after the executive committee meeting of AIFF on 9 July 2019.