ISL I League Merger

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Speculations had been going on for a long while, and the AIFF has finally announced the merger between ISL and I-League.

According to AIFF president Praful Patel, the merger might see light by the 2018-19 season. “We are working towards establishing a new road map for Indian football and whatever format we decide on will be under the guidance of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA., ” said the AIFF chief who has connections in both AFC and FIFA.



The merger would most likely include 8 ISL teams along with Bengaluru FC, and Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan AC and East Bengal FC. However, Indians footballing legends Baichung Bhutia and IM Vijayan have voiced their support for a bigger league with more teams and a longer duration.

“Right now the football calendar is in a difficult situation. Many players are out of action because of the short tenure of ISL and I-League. So a long league of seven months would help in stabilising the structure,” Baichung Bhutia said

“There are a lot of players. But due to pull out of clubs like Salgaocar many players are clubless. If the merged league has a greater number of clubs then the free players will get a chance to play,” Vijayan said voicing his support for clubless players.
“The new league should also employ AFC`s four-foreigner rule rather than the six imports allowed in ISL.” he added.



East Bengal and Mohun Bagan have however objected to having to pay INR15 crores, and have stated that they would not let the sponsors have ultimate say over the designs of jerseys.

According to sources, the merger would result in stagnation in the lower leagues as there would be no relegation from first division or promotion for teams from the second division for 7 years. Clubs like Aizawl, Shillong Lajong or Mumbai FC who have promising squads but lack capital would suffer greatly. A league of 11 teams means there would be a close competition but not having the fear of relegation would make them complacent and take away their urge to grow. While in the second division, promising players would not want to stay and if they do, 7 years would be an l7-year long curse for them. Thus the quality of teams in the second division would drop even more.

To sum up, even more, the main objective of the Board seems to be to make, even more, cash rich and lucrative, but there is no guarantee of improvement in the quality of football. While ultras want the merger’s idea to be scrapped totally, any ordinary Football fan would want the merger to happen, in a win-win situation for all the sides.