I-League 2020-21: AIFF mulling over suspension of relegation due to Covid-19 pandemic

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The AIFF (All India Football Federation) are considering suspending relegation for the 2020-21 season of the I-League due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Goal can confirm. 

Goal understands that the arrangement specifically for this season and relegation will continue as usual from the next season onwards. 

The AIFF is set to hold a meeting involving key stakeholders on Friday where they are expected to discuss the relegation in the I-League. In the meeting, it is expected that AIFF's Technical Director, Isac Doru, will make a presentation regarding the suspension of relegation for this season alone. 

However, the final decision will be taken later on this issue. 

It has been an unusual season in Indian football where both I-League and Indian Super League (ISL) were organised closed doors and players were restricted to a bio-bubble as a preventive measure against the Coronavirus. 

While the ISL was held in a centralised venue in Goa, the I-League was also conducted in a similar manner in Kolkata. 

Previously, there have been a few instances when the AIFF have allowed teams to continue in the top division despite getting relegated. 

Aizawl FC I-League 2017/2018

In 2015-16, Aizawl were supposed to go down after finishing in the relegation zone. Despite that, they went on to become runners-up in that edition of the Federation Cup, losing to Mohun Bagan in the final. Subsequently, AIFF obliged the club's request to not relegate them and reinstated them in the 2016-17 edition of I-League. 

“Keeping in mind the heartwarming performance of Aizawl FC in the last edition, the Committee unanimously decided to give them a ticket to play in the 2016-17 edition.” the AIFF had stated back then. 

Moreover, Goan side Churchill Brothers were relegated from I-League in the 2017-18 season. But, the Red Machines were accommodated back into the league after a request by the club that there are no other representatives from Goa in the I-League. As a result, AIFF decided to waive off their relegation.

This time if the federation decides to suspend relegation for this season then the beneficiary would be NEROCA FC. After finishing 10th in the regular season, they failed to improve their performances in the relegation round and finished last in the table with just eight points from 14 matches.