The top flight’s head honcho had previously stated that this might be the last season of the I-League.
There has been much speculation surrounding the two Indian football leagues and their future next season. Hence I-League CEO Sunando Dhar cleared all the rumours on Friday over the future of the top flight, as he claimed that the country will have only one top division from next season.
“The aim is to have a proper structure in place where there will be one league at the top, followed by the second and third divisions. We are simply focusing on the one-league structure,” Dhar said.
“However, promotion and relegation could be difficult next season because there are contractual obligations and it will be difficult for us to rub those out. Once those contractual obligations are taken care of, relegation and promotion would start,” Dhar said on the future of Indian football’s league structure on Friday.
The speculation surrounding the Kolkata giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan joining the cash-rich Indian Super League next season is on the rise. In this regard, the I-League CEO confirmed that both the sides from Kolkata will be a part of the top league.
Addressing the issue Dhar said, “Bagan and East Bengal are the two biggest clubs in the history of Indian football and I am sure that they will play in the top division. However, there wouldn’t be any different treatment meted out to the I-League clubs as compared to the ISL franchises. Like the ISL, the I-League is also an AIFF property”.
The I-League CEO expressed his delight in informing that the stadium attendence of the I-League matches has also increased. “Last year, it was 58%. This time we have bettered it, ” he added.
Dhar was also questioned on whether the clubs in the top league will have to pay the franchise fee of ₹15 crore just like the way the ISL clubs do. “We know that I-League clubs don’t work on a huge budget, but then financial stability is important not only for the I-League clubs, but also ISL clubs. Worldwide, the maximum money comes from TV rights. But, it’s not the case in India. So, we are working on getting the perfect model which will be financially viable,” he concluded.