The proposed revamp of the Indian football calendar by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has led to mixed reactions from all quarters. Former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia is somewhat pleased with the three-tier structure as he believes the move would lead to creating more job opportunities, but Mohun Bagan striker Cornell Glen is not happy at all with the changes that could come into effect from the 2017-18 season.
During a closed-door meeting on Tuesday between the AIFF, their commercial partners IMG-R and representatives from Indian Super League (ISL) and I-League clubs, it was decided that the ISL would become the main domestic club football tournament of the country, while the I-League would become the second tier. The I-League second division would, meanwhile, become the third tier football club competition.
It has also been reportedly mentioned that two or three teams from the I-League – presumably Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Bengaluru FC – would join the ISL and add to the existing eight-team tally. The I-League clubs will only be inducted to the top tier via a tender process.
Trinidad & Tobago World Cupper Cornell Glen is not at all happy with the proposed structure, and has minced no words in criticising the ISL. "Just watch the ISL destroy Indian football! #Visionless [sic]," Glen, who has been playing in the I-League since 2013, first as a Shillong Lajong player, wrote on Twitter.
The 35-year-old striker, in a series of tweets, has also lent his support to the I-League and said the money generated from the ISL could have been utilised to make the I-League better.
Bhutia, meanwhile, has said there will be plenty of opportunities for players to perform at the national stage. "The new proposal of the AIFF, which includes a three-tier league system, is extremely beneficial for all players involved," the former Mohun Bagan and East Bengal forward told Goal.
"The spectre of unemployment, which Indian football currently faces, will be tackled to a very large extent. The job opportunities are going to be immense. We're looking at three tiers of football with the Super Cup to boot — the players will have ample chances, unlike seen today," he added.