The All India Football Federation today with its marketing partners IMG-Reliance presented a first draft of a plan to revamp the whole calendar across Indian football at both national team and club level.
The meeting was also attended by other members of the AIFF and IMG-Reliance, the I-League, clubs from the I-League and Indian Super League franchises.
The most awaited topic was the proposal regarding the future structure of club/franchise football in India, which AIFF/IMG-R see as the Indian Super League being the top tier without any relegation. The number of teams in the ISL is currently undecided, but what is clear is that the eight franchise would be joined by a number of I-League clubs and new to be auctioned city-based franchise teams.
Below the ISL there would be the new League One, which would be the new name of the I-League, a league with 10 teams with relegation and promotion.
The current Second Division League would become League Two and get a new format and structure by becoming a more regional affair with North, East, South and West divisions by 2020. The top team of the League Two would gain promotion to the League One.
All three leagues would run in parallel with Star Sports set to broadcast the ISL as well as the League One with League Two to be put onto regional broadcasters.
In the 2017/18 season, the three leagues will have a shorter season due to the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, but from 2018 onwards the leagues would run from September to March.
The Federation Cup, India’s version of the FA Cup, would be re-christened to Super Cup from the 2018/19 season onwards. It will be contested by teams from all three leagues, with a total of 16 teams in the final competition. 8 ISL teams and the top 4 League One teams will be guaranteed a place, while the remaining four spots will be contested by a playoff between the remaining teams of League One and League Two in a playoff/knockout format.
Coming to the national team, the AIFF/IMG-R want to raise India’s ranking to 120 over the next 12 to 18 months. Very high hopes, which would be difficult to fulfill, but to give Team India more exposure, the old Nehru Cup would be revamped as an invitational four nation Champions Cup.
Meanwhile a Women’s League is also set to be launched and run from November to February to give Indian women a chance to compete at the highest level.