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Indian Super League welcomes new clubs - but the new entrants need to step up

06:19 BST 14/10/2019
East Bengal Bengaluru FC Super Cup 2018
The Indian Super League are letting new clubs in but they will need to improve their standards inorder to stay in the league...

Following a high-level meeting with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has finally confirmed a roadmap in place for Indian football. 

As part of the decisions taken on October 14, the soon-to-be top division football league of India - the Indian Super League (ISL) - will be adding two existing, popular clubs from the eastern region of the country. 

While the identities of the two clubs are yet to be officially confirmed, Goal has learnt that the clubs will be Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. However, regardless of their legacy and popularity, the two behemoths will need to step up their game off the field, especially regarding maintenance of stadiums and infrastructure. 

The former top tier league of the country, I-League, has exciting football on offer but the participants have struggled to raise their standards elsewhere. In fact, ahead of the 2019-20 season of Indian football, Chennai City remain the only I-League team to fulfil their licensing criteria - the rest have failed. It is one of the basic requirements to pass the club licensing criteria for any football club in the world. 

The two new clubs coming into ISL will have a lot of work to do if they are to match the standards set by the Football Sports Development Ltd (FSDL)-owned league. The league has had a big role to play in setting the standards high for its participants, especially when it comes to maintenance of stadium and its facilities and the clubs have since taken up the mantle and followed the guidelines set in place during the league's formative years. 

In I-League however, clubs have struggled to keep up with the guidelines put in place by AIFF and this will need to change. On the field, issues such as delayed kick-offs, floodlight failures and pathetic ground conditions have plagued the league. Stadium security and safety have gone for a toss, away teams have missed out on training sessions because of lack of facilities and the list just continues. 

It is a positive move by ISL to let in two more clubs, with an ultimate goal to expand the league and establish promotion and relegation which a few of its critiques have been demanding for a few years. Now that the league has gone ahead and confirmed the same, it is up to the clubs to do the needful and revamp their outdated setups.