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Top five highlights from AIFF League Committee's meeting on May 1

Published at :May 3, 2023 at 5:29 AM
Modified at :May 3, 2023 at 6:06 AM
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It was a landmark meeting where I-League and its composition for the coming years were the main focus.

All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) League Committee met through video conference on 1 May 2023. Lalnghinglova Hmar was the chair of the meet that also had the likes of Secretary General Dr Shaji Prabhakaran, and Committee members Mr M Satyanarayan, Mr Arif Ali, Dr Kiran Chougule, Mr Amit Chaudhuri and Mr Caetano Fernandes.

The meeting of the League Committee took vital decisions for the future of the I-League. Vision 2047, the new roadmap for Indian football, was the driving force behind the decisions, expected to revolutionize the I-League in future. “This is an important meeting, and the decisions made today will have a significant impact, not only on the I-League but also on the overall development of football in the country,” Shaji Prabhakaran said.

“As we all know, the Roadmap of the AIFF plans to expand the league system to more teams and provide more opportunities to invest in Indian football. I’m sure these decisions will inspire the footballing community to come forward and participate in football and create a robust league that will be able to meet the expectations of all our fans and stakeholders,” he stated after the meeting took key steps towards increasing the number of teams in the I-League. 

Here are the top five highlights from the meeting:

Division of cities in a tier system

In order to increase the size of the I-League, the League Committee recommended the invitation of bids in a three-tier system. This is to provide opportunities to clubs/teams from all parts of the country and socio-economic backgrounds, modern or developing.

According to the tier system, Tier 1 will consist of cities such as New Delhi, Bengaluru, Pune, Gurugram, Chennai, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Guwahati, and Noida. Tier 2 cities for the bids include Ranchi, Itanagar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Phagwara, Coimbatore, Manjeri, Thiruvananthapuram, Bhopal, and Shillong. Bids coming in from Tier 3 will comprise villages under the control of panchayats and they can come up with bids, 'provided they own a stadium, training facilities, which are not more than 200 km from any domestic airport.'

Bid value and relegation immunity

The minimum bid value also varies depending on the tier. According to the new stipulations, the minimum bid for potential clubs from Tier 1 and 2 should be of INR 5 crores and INR 2.5 crores respectively. As for potential clubs from Tier 3, the minimum bid value stands at INR 1 crore.

This provides a good balance to potential bidders hailing from different socio-economic backgrounds with varying financial capabilities. Teams with higher bids will get preference in selection and inclusion into the I-League without any subsidy for the first two seasons. Furthermore, the winning bids from Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities will receive a relegation immunity for two seasons, while a winning bid from Tier 3 will get one season's relegation immunity.

Minimum net worth of prospective bidders

The League Committee also laid out the minimum net worth of potential bidders - a criteria they must meet. As for potential bidders from Tier 1 cities, their minimum net worth shall be of INR 100 crores.

For bidders from Tier 2 cities, the minimum net worth stands at INR 50 crores. Furthermore, INR 40 crores is the minimum required net worth for bidders coming from Tier 3 towns.

Minimum number of U-22 players and reduction of foreigners

As per the U-22 Regulation in the 2023-24 season of the I-League, every participating club must have five U-22 players registered in the squad.

Moreover, the League Committee further recommended that 'the foreigners' quota be reduced in order to allow more Indian players to get opportunities in the I-League'. As per the recommendation, clubs can register up to five foreigners in their squad and field a maximum of three in their playing XI. It also removes the compulsion of signing an Asian quota player.

Increase in the number of teams in the I-League

Perhaps the biggest highlight from the AIFF League Committee’s meeting was the decision to increase the number of teams in I-League. The chair of the meeting Mr Hmar said, “As per Target 2026, we aim to have 14 teams in the I-League by that year, so we will take the call on how many clubs will gain entry based on the strength of the bids that we receive.”

There were 12 teams in the 2022-23 edition of the I-League. With 14 teams, the competition will be longer and the players will have more game time. These decisions are a positive step towards staying true to the ideas of Vision 2047.