The Indian Super League is set to become the premier domestic football competition of the country, reports have come in. The existing eight teams in the competition will be joined by two or three more teams from the I-League -- currently the premier club football competition of the country -- inducted via a tender process.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) are reportedly keen to start off the newly-drafted Indian football calendar from the 2017-18 season.
I-League, according to the new calendar, will become the second division among three tiers, which also sees the second division I-League become the third division. While the ISL won't see any relegation for the first few years, the promotion and relegation rule will be active between the I-League and the second division.
With more clubs featuring, there will be a demand for more footballers too. The big question, therefore, remains where the players will be coming from. The new structure may have its drawback, but no doubt it could turn a boon for many professional footballers from India, yet to enter the big scene. "Initially, the lower division clubs might struggle but they will have to develop players eventually. That's the ecosystem we want," AIFF President Praful Patel told the Indian Express.
There have been reports that the likes of Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Bengaluru FC could join the ISL, and if that indeed happens, we could see three teams from Kolkata -- Bagan, East Bengal and Atletico de Kolkata -- for the first time in any national level club football competition.
The Federation Cup, meanwhile, will be renamed as the Super Cup, and a total of 16 teams will be a part of the competition from all three tiers. As for the Asian football competition slots, the winner of ISL and the winner of the Super Cup will earn an AFC Cup berth each.