The 49-year-old also feels that I-League teams’ quality is superior to that of their ISL counterparts.
Indian football legend IM Vijayan has expressed his view in support of the I-League, stating its quality to be better than the Indian Super League.
I-League has been India’s top flight all this while and have seen sensational stories like Aizawl FC’s fairytale run followed by Minerva Punjab’s triumph of grit and determination and recently Chennai City FC also emerged as shock winners of the league. Vijayan feels that the stories are a testament to the quality of the I-League, which is on the verge of being demoted as the second division league from next season.
“The matches in the I-League are very competitive and it is of high quality. I have always seen that the matches are of good quality. Chennai City played some very good football this year. In the last three years of I-League, three different clubs won the title. Even teams like Real Kashmir showed that they can play really good football. That’s not always the case with ISL,” Vijayan said to The New Indian Express.
Considering the current situation where the I-League clubs have formed a conglomerate to fight their battle against All India Football Federation (AIFF), which results in boycotting the Super Cup until any senior personnel from the federation addresses their issue. The revolts bore fruit as AIFF president Praful Patel finally agreed to meet the clubs in mid-April, hearing the decision the clubs have now reconsidered their call to feature in the Super Cup.
“We cannot say anything until the meetings happen. They should be knowing what is best for Indian football. I can’t say anything about the merger,” he said. In all likelihood, the I-League will be relegated to second division status and the teams won’t get the opportunity to win promotion to the ISL.
“Relegation can be good for a league. The competitiveness will be much higher as teams will fight hard to avoid relegation while lower division clubs will give their all to win promotion. It will only be healthy for club football. Let’s see how things work out,” Vijayan added.
The former India international rates the contribution of I-League in Indian football higher than its counterpart and also underlined its importance in nurturing new talent and giving them exposure.
“The I-League gives opportunities to youngsters. It is very important in developing the next generation. We have seen over the years how I-League has contributed to Indian football.
“As far as the ISL is concerned, more people are starting to watch it. If the I-League gets a similar level of visibility, then you will see that it is a high-quality league. The goals, the skills, everything is really good. We have seen in the Super Cup that I-League teams can give them a serious fight,” he concluded.