bhaichung bhutia
Former India football team skipper Bhaichung BhutiaReuters

Indian football legend Bhaichung Bhutia has categorically stated that although he wishes the Indian Super League to have a better showing in the second season, he doesn't want the three-month tournament to merge with the official domestic league of the country – I-League.

The need for having a single football league has remained the point of discussion for many months now - both by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and the Indian football fans. And the importance of a single league was stressed on by national team coach Stephen Constantine as well.

Indian football fans also took to social media to give their views on the same, with some suggesting merging both the ISL and the I-League, and having a single league which will run for 8-9 months – similar to the lines of the English Premier League or the La Liga -- is the way to go.

Even the format of the Major League Soccer (MLS) is an example that could be followed, according to Constantine.

The British coach urged AIFF and "all the powers that be" to sit and discuss the way ahead for Indian football as he wants to have an "ultra professional presentation of ISL combined with sustainable eight-month I-League calendar."

Not only that, AIFF president Praful Patel also confirmed that the governing body of Indian football are looking for ways to eventually merge the two leagues into one common format.

However, former India skipper Bhutia doesn't feel it will be much of a help if both the leagues merge.

"The first season of ISL was a huge success and I want it to be better in season two. I don't see it [a merger between the ISL and I-League] happening," Bhutia has been quoted as saying.

"ISL is a three-month long tournament and has attracted some very big names. Last year it was Del Piero, this time it's Roberto Carlos and Lucio. I don't want ISL to merge with the I-League."

Although Bhutia, currently the chairman of the AIFF technical committee, has lent his support to the ISL from the start, having a successful I-League also remains one of his ambitions. But he feels the domestic league lacks the mileage that the ISL has, by a long way.

Giving his views on Pune-based I-League clubs like Pune FC and Bharat FC, who are reportedly ready to disband, Bhutia said: "I can understand their position. It's not easy, as sponsorship is difficult to get.

"I-League does not get the kind of viewership and mileage like ISL. I had my own club Sikkim United and though it's not shut down, I am running it on a smaller scale."

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