The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has stated that they are looking at introducing a complete new league that will encompass India's football ecosystem. The expectations are that the league will stretch from October to March and will be implemented latest by the end of 2018.
Calls for merging the Indian Super League with the I-League have reached crescendo in recent months with fans and almost everyone associated with football in the country calling for one single league structure that will also provide much breather to the existing clustered football calendar of the country.
The Indian football governing body had earlier also stated that they are hopeful of implementing a single league in the country in two-three years' time. On Wednesday, too, they reiterated looking forward to their initial plan with a more serious approach.
"We are looking at how to do it [create a single football league], when to do it, so it is not simply a merger [between the ISL and the I-League]," AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das was quoted as saying by Goal. "The top league will be open to allow bids from other clubs. But it would be wrong to call it a merger.
"We have had discussion regarding changing the entire structure. We are not merging both the leagues, but we are attempting to create a completely new one that will encompass India's football ecosystem. The talks are at a preliminary stage, but the decision has been taken," he added.
Das also mentioned that they had planned to get the new league underway by the next year itself, when India hosts the FIFA U-17 World Cup. However, having said that, they are not rushing things.
"No benchmark or time frame has been targeted to complete the process. Our initial plan was to complete this by 2017 so that it would go in tandem with the U-17 World Cup. However, we have taken a collective decision on not rushing this. Hence our last date for execution will be late 2018," Das continued.
"In any given calendar year, first comes the ISL, then I-League, and then again Federation Cup. This doesn't reflect well on a football federation. No country in the world has something like this, and we don't want to do it either. The new league will stretch from October to March. It will solve the prevalent problems regarding scheduling and calendar," he further added.