Many think and believe that the I-League cannot and will not survive if played in parallel to the Indian Super League as the ISL owners and marketing body of Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) would only focus on the ISL.
The calendar for the 2017/18 season is still unclear but as things stand, the Indian Super League and I-League would be played in parallel for the first time with the I-League still on paper being India’s top tier football league.
The question is, Can the I-League survive in parallel to the Indian Super League?
It surely won’t be an easy task as the FSDL will continue to focus on the ISL, while the I-League will have to fight for its own right of existence as the future road map of Indian club football remains unclear. And that is according to me is a massive chance for the I-League.
The ISL going into its fourth season will be a watered down product from what it was launched as in 2014. Less foreigners, less high profile names, likely less marketing spend means it is a weaker version of itself; while the I-League has learned a thing or two from the ISL and has improved its product despite live television coverage being a massive turn off.
The I-League are losing one of their best run clubs in Bengaluru FC to the ISL, but as of today their biggest draws in Mohun Bagan AC and East Bengal Club will continue to be in the I-League and if the clubs stay united and focused, maybe they can in their own interest keep the I-League surviving, then not all top Indian footballers will get a chance in the ISL, while some might choose the I-League over the ISL and others might opt for the I-League if an ISL draft is held not known which city and franchise they would end up with.
Running the I-League in parallel to the Indian Super League, it has a future in the short-term, but what happens once the new blueprint of Indian club football is out will have to be seen.