The stakeholders have arrived at the decision following a meeting with the AFC who has provided its consultation on the future roadmap for the sport in the country.

The news that everyone in the country had been waiting for is finally here. The ISL has been anointed as the top division of Indian football beginning from the upcoming season, with the I-League dropping down to become the second tier. The decision was made at a meeting of the top brass of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and AIFF, with representatives of clubs from the two leagues.

In terms of continental football, the leaders at the end of the ISL’s league phase will go to the AFC Champions League playoffs. In contrast, the winners of the I-League get a spot in the AFC Cup.

Speaking up on the occasion, Dato Windsor John, General Secretary, AFC, quoted, “Everyone has to put the good of Indian football at the forefront and take the best decisions to develop Indian club football. The AFC will be very much involved to ensure the growth of the game to the next level with the pathway to a single league.”

“Everyone has contributed to the development of the Indian club game – ISL, I-League clubs, the AIFF and the AFC – and I am sure that if this roadmap is considered further then Indian football will see the benefits for the game,” he added.

Interestingly, two clubs (East Bengal and Mohun Bagan) from the newly formed second tier of Indian football will also get entry into the Indian Super League in the 2020-21 season. Moreover, it has also officially decided that the winners of the I-League will be promoted to the ISL from 2023 onward.

The AFC has been holding consultations on a roadmap for Indian football after a series of controversies erupted in the past year involving the clubs and the AIFF.

According to the newly formulated roadmap, it has also been decided that there will be one league and one knockout competition in the country starting from the year 2025.

ISL and I-League merger update

Indian Football Road map presented to all stakeholders at AFC headquarters.

As per reports, the current system of no promotion and no relegation in the ISL will continue to exist until the year 2022, with the winners of the I-League making an entry into the top tier in the subsequent campaign. This also implies that there will be no entry fee charge to the clubs entering the ISL via promotion and there will not be any distribution of the central revenue to them.

Another condition pertaining to the decisions taken during the meeting is that the promotion of I-League clubs will be subject to fulfilment of national club licensing criteria.

AFC Headquarters Meeting on Roadmap for Indian Football

A glimpse from the meeting that took place at the AFC Headquarters on October 14th.

“India is an important country for football in Asia,” spoke Kushal Das, General Secretary, AIFF, post the meeting.

“We have to be financially sustainable and take into consideration all commercial and contractual aspects of this plan because commerce is key to football not only in India but across the world of football,” he stated.

This system will continue for another season and then from the year 2025, there will be a single league in the country, in which promotion and relegation will be implemented.

The I-League, now officially the second division of Indian football, will begin on November 16th. With the future roadmap of the domestic game now clear, it will be a very exciting season. On the other hand, the ISL – officially the elite division of India- begins its 2019-20 campaign on 20th October.