The General Secretary of the continental governing body acknowledged the progress of Indian football.
The Indian Super League (ISL) is set for an expansion after the organizers of the competition, Football Sport Development Limited (FSDL), released a tender for one more team to be added to the competition for the upcoming season.
Speaking on the topic, General Secretary of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Dato Windsor John said, “The AIFF deserves full praise for working towards strengthening the passion for football and are committed towards professionalism and meeting the licensing criteria. They can continue to do their part in growing the game and thriving under the new roadmap.”
“The AFC also emphasized the importance of engaging with and bringing on board the view of everyone who have contributed to the Indian clubs game, from ISL, I-League clubs and AIFF, ” he further quoted to PTI.
According to the new roadmap approved by the AFC last year, there was supposed to be the addition of two I-League clubs by the end of the 2020-21 season to the ISL, subject to the criteria being fulfilled, but the move of one team has come earlier than expected.
“The AFC is pleased to note AIFF’s progress in implementation of the roadmap. We welcome any move to accelerate the process of reaching the milestones outlined in the roadmap, but it is also important to recognize that football and professional league development, like all the sporting and worthy endeavours, requires time and patience to truly deliver best possible future,” the General Secretary pointed out.
Meanwhile, East Bengal are most likely to be the new team introduced into the ISL, after recently announcing their new investor Shree Cements. The move of expansion doesn’t come as a surprise since it is part of the roadmap approved by the AFC.
The Indian Super League started with eight teams in 2014 and in the year 2017 two more teams, Bengaluru FC and Jamshedpur FC became part of the roster. However in 2019, two teams which were earlier part of the competition, Delhi Dynamos and FC Pune City, changed their base and became Odisha FC and Hyderabad FC respectively.
The roadmap states that the winners of the I-League 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons will stand a chance to be promoted to the ISL with no participation fee, basis fulfilling sporting merit and the national club licensing criteria, whereas full promotion and relegation is expected to start from the 2024-25 campaign onward.