The General Secretary of AIFF spoke after the decision to expand the top flight.
The 2024-25 season of the Indian Super League (ISL) will have promotion and relegation as revealed by All India Football Federation (AIFF) General Secretary Kushal Das.
According to the roadmap suggested by the AFC last year, there was supposed to be a pathway for two I-League sides in the ISL by the end of the 2020-21 season, but the expansion of the league has come sooner than expected, as East Bengal are likely to be part of the roster in the upcoming campaign itself.
Speaking on the subject with Press Trust of India, Das said, “We have always wanted Mohun Bagan and East Bengal to be in ISL. That was the basis for the whole roadmap. We have always believed legacy cannot be ignored. There was a little bit of concern, but it’s sorted now.”
Das also gave his thoughts on the implementation of the roadmap and remarked, “Going forward, in the next 2-3 years, Indian football will have a structured roadmap in terms of relegation and promotion.”
“The roadmap is for the next two years. The winner of I-League will get a direct slot in ISL purely on sporting merit from 2022. Then, from 2024-25, there will be promotion and relegation, where the bottom-placed team in ISL will be relegated to the second-tier and the I-League winner will be promoted to ISL. This is the roadmap agreed by all stakeholders,” he further explained.
On Wednesday 2nd September, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced Shree Cement as the investor of East Bengal, thereby making sure there are no hurdles left for the Kolkata giants to participate in the cash-rich league.
According to Kushal Das, East Bengal’s move came sooner than expected, as he went on to add, “The roadmap was agreed upon, but the fact is we have also achieved better than what was expected. The roadmap said by the end of 2021 season we will have two I-League clubs in ISL, but we have done it before that time.”
“We have worked a lot for a long time. It required lots of consultations with the AFC, various stakeholders, the clubs and our commercial partners Football Sports Development Limited,” he concluded.