The projet was agreed in 2019.

On 29th September, the FIFA-AFC delegation held a meeting with the I-League clubs and FSDL, apart from other stakeholders. FSDL, citing that the Covid-19 pandemic has acted as a dampener for its finances, had previously requested to push the promotion-relegation in ISL for another two years. This has become a friction point for I-League clubs like Gokulam Kerala FC and Mohammedan Sporting Club who had been planning to enter the ISL as soon as possible by winning the upcoming I-League season.

The proposed roadmap for Indian football (2019) stated that the winner of the 2022-23 I-League will get direct entry into the 2023-24 ISL season without having to pay any franchise fee. Further, from the 2024-25 season, relegation will be introduced to the currently closed ISL.

The warning from I-League clubs

The Indian Super League has been a closed league since its inception. Even though it was inferior to I-league during its earlier seasons, today it is the top-tier league of the nation. ISL achieved the feat from AFC and FIFA in 2019. Hence, keeping the league closed made it impossible for I-League sides to enter the top-flight of the country.

I-League clubs, therefore, want FSDL to honour the original agreement that suggested implementing promotion from 2023-24 and relegation from the 2024-25 season onwards. As reported by News9Live, Mohammedan official Dipak Singh said, “We have stressed for the creation of one league with ISL and I-League teams also informing that if the roadmap is not followed, we may go to court.”

He also mentioned, “Before the start of the I-League, each participating club is sent a charter of rules and regulations. We want the point of promotion to be included in the 2022-23 charter.”

Written agreement demanded

It is reported that FIFA delegates sought some time to mull the matter after hearing the I-League clubs’ stance. The latter pitched the idea of including new teams based on merit and competitiveness. They had already written to the AIFF regarding the matter in April, but had failed to get a response from them.

Now, the clubs want the AIFF to put it in wiriting that the upcoming season’s I-League winners will be promoted to next year’s ISL. They want it to be written in the rules and regulations charter of the 2022-23 I-League, which is going to begin on October 29. With the ball now in AIFF and FSDL’s court, it remains to be seen what unfolds in the coming months.

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