The rules pertaining to the appointment of head coaches have also been altered ahead of the new campaign.

The Indian Super League (ISL) is set to change some rules to make the 2020-21 season more robust and focus on giving domestic starlets a bigger spotlight in an attempt to brighten the future of Indian football.

The league has decided that every club must include two developmental players in their match day squad from next season onward. The development players – who’ll need to be born on or after January 1, 2000 – will feature in the sides’ 18-player squad.

Of course, a few youngsters broke through the system to shine in the ISL last season. ATK defender Sumit Rathi was the most prominent name, as he proved just how good the club’s youth system is by seamlessly transitioning into Antonio Habas’ side.

Leon Augustine, Mobashir Rahman and Sandip Mandi were some other developmental stars to make their mark last season. The performances of the youth stars have convinced the ISL to give youngsters a bigger opportunity, a move that will hugely benefit the players.

In terms of the entire squad that can be comprised of 35 members at most, there must be a minimum of 20 domestic players. A team can also have a minimum of five and maximum seven foreigners in their squad, but that must include one Asian player.

There have been certain changes made to the criteria for appointing head coaches of ISL teams as well. Every appointed head coach must be at least an AFC Pro License holder or equivalent, or be in the process of obtaining the license. Moreover, the assistant coach of a club can also succeed the head coach, if the necessary criteria is met. This means an Indian can become a head coach in the ISL, if they have the necessary qualifications.

India national team head coach Igor Stimac has voiced the need to give a brighter focus on pushing the domestic stars in the ISL. It looks like the ISL committee has made these changes to ensure that more exposure is given to promising domestic talents and so that the foreign players don’t steal the might of the spotlight.

Now, it’s the job of the clubs themselves to give a platform to their best Indian stars. With this rule change, we should see a structural shift with the clubs. The 2020-21 ISL season is expected to have a delayed start due to the coronavirus pandemic in the country, with a November kick-off date being a possibility.

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