The AIFF has established a minimum pay for female players and developed an institutional league comprising public sector entities.
The Indian Super League (ISL) hopes to expand to 16 clubs before instituting relegation in Indian football’s top flight.
According to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) roadmap agreed upon all parties in 2019. Since its start in 2014, the ISL has been a closed league. With promotion as they set to implement in the 2023-24 season and relegation in 2024-25
Beginning in 2014 as an eight-team franchise league with no promotion or relegation. The ISL has steadily evolved to an 11-team competition. Adding Bengaluru FC, Mohun Bagan, and East Bengal in different editions during its nine-year history.
They designated the league as the top league in the country. After the plan approved in October 2019 at the AFC’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.
AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey’s discussion
“We are in discussion with our (AIFF’s) marketing partners regarding it. There is a thought of implementing relegation once 16 teams are there. But no decision has been reached yet,” AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey said on the sidelines of a press conference on Friday.
“Our aim is to have a structured football league, which fulfills all basic AFC guidelines”.
The league is slated to grow to 12 clubs in 2023-24 as part of the execution of the 2019 AFC roadmap, with I-League champions Roundglass Punjab eligible to compete in the league provided they meet the severe AFC licencing standards.
The licencing procedure is presently underway, with Roundglass Punjab looking at the prospect of playing home games at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
“Hopefully Punjab will play in ISL, subject to fulfillment of licensing criteria,” former India custodian Chaubey remarked when questioned about the difficulties Punjab may encounter in adhering to the tight licencing procedure.
Previously a pay-to-play competition, the promoted I-league champions will no longer be required to pay a participation fee. So far, other ISL franchises have paid a hefty Rs 15-18 crore every season to compete.
The minimum wage: Kalyan Chaubey states
The Chaubey-led AIFF had its fourth executive committee meeting on Friday since taking office in September last year, and it also agreed to overhaul the Indian Women’s League (IWL).
According to News9 Sports, the AIFF would implement a minimum pay for female footballers, with its best teams having at least 10 home-grown players on contracts for at least Rs 3.2 lakh.
Through 2024-25, women’s football will divide into three divisions, with the top-tier IWL consisting of ten clubs.
State leagues will be at the bottom of the pyramid when the framework is enlarged to a four-tier structure in 2025–2026.
The institutional league
The federation announced the formation of a 10-team institutional league. It comprised of public sector undertakings (PSU) teams, including home and away matches.
These PSU teams, previously part of the elite tier in the pre-ISL days. They had sunk into obscurity after failing to meet the licencing standards.
“There has been no recruitment in these PSU teams in the last 12 years.” “I hope the institutional league creates job opportunities,” AIFF president Chaubey remarked.
A thorough grassroots restructure also announced, with a group from FIFA’s talent development plan. Arsene Wenger, travelling to India on May 3 to help in the building of a system to develop players.
A comprehensive grassroots revamp was also announced, with a group from FIFA’s talent development strategy leading the charge.
No overseas player in state leagues
Following the prohibition on the use of international players in I-League II, the AIFF has decided that no foreign players would be able to register for state leagues from next season.
In the ISL and I-League, six foreigners can be registered. With four of them, including one Asian (3+1), permitted to play in matches.
Despite the AFC increasing the foreign player limit from 3+1 to 5+1 beginning with the 2023-24 season, the AIFF will maintain the current arrangement.
“No discussion on increasing foreigners in ISL,” AIFF general secretary Shaji Prabhakaran told to a sports media.
Alongside the AFC Asian Cup starting in January 2024, the AIFF is also discussing a camp to prepare for the competition alongside AIFF’s marketing partners.
India coach Igor Stimac has often stated the necessity for a 30-day camp. But with the ISL set to begin in October, finding time is difficult.
“We are discussing with the stakeholders over a camp before the Asian Cup,” Chaubey said. Before adding that a schedule of international matches has been planned, beginning with the International Cup. And SAFF Championship in June and July. Followed by the Asian Games in September. Merdeka Cup in October. Lastly, FIFA international windows in September, October, and November.
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