The fifth edition of the tournament will feature no new clubs, Khel Now sources have confirmed.
The much-awaited, next edition of the cash-rich Indian Super League (ISL) will begin on September 29. The official tournament fixtures draw will be held in mid-August, Khel Now understands.
The ISL will also feature three international breaks this season. There will be small breaks in October and November due to India’s international friendly matches. The tournament will also witness a big break, starting from mid-December to the last week of January, as India aim to make it big in the AFC Asian Cup in the UAE. The tournament will restart on early-February and will end in mid-March, Khel Now understands.
Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), who organize the ISL, have also decided not to invite bids for new teams in the next edition, which will see Kolkata giants like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, both of whom have shown interest in joining the ISL, continue in the I-League in the upcoming season, sources close to the developments have informed Khel Now.
Debabrata Sarkar, Club Secretary, East Bengal, had earlier stated that they would bid for an ISL place if the bidding process was open. Following that, Swapan Sadhan Bose, Club President, Mohun Bagan, had also claimed that they would do everything possible to join the ISL, if rivals East Bengal eventually moved to the cash-rich league.
Teams like Kerala Blasters and Bengaluru FC have already kick-started their pre-season campaigns. The ISL’s Kerala-based outfit participated in the Toyota Yaris LaLiga World – the first international pre-season tournament in India, where they were pitted against La Liga side Girona FC and A-League side Melbourne City.
Kerala Blasters may have endured heavy defeats in both fixtures, but there is no denying that it was a learning curve for the Yellows and will undoubtedly benefit David James’ side in the ISL. It has also helped them understand their strengths, weaknesses and improvements needed.
Super Cup winners Bengaluru FC are currently on a Spanish pre-season sojourn. The JSW Group-owned club have already played two games and are scheduled to play another two, including a match against FC Barcelona B.
The remaining teams are currently reinforcing their squads ahead of the new season. It is also expected that these teams would quicken their transfer activity and preparations once the official announcement is out.
It is also reliably understood that clubs are planning to undergo pre-season camps in different parts of the world, which has become a trend in recent years.
With 10 teams in contention for the coveted AFC Cup-slot, it is clear that clubs have taken the league seriously, which has been made evident from the signings made by the clubs so far. FC Pune City, who have performed well in the transfer market, are expected to announce their new HEAD coach in the coming days. The foreign recruitments made by the clubs will also be announced officially in the coming days.