I-League 2017-18: Clubs' demands could delay start of I-League season
The proposed start of the latest edition of the I-League from November 12th could very well be delayed after a meeting between AIFF chiefs in New Delhi earlier today where the start dates for the new season of the Hero I-League was up for discussion.
An early start of the I-League could pose a problem for many of the teams, a point that they have highlighted to AIFF. Clubs like Kingfisher East Bengal could very well be forced to play without three or four of their main players due to international duties with players having to be in the national camp with India taking on Myanmar on 14 November in India's AFC Asian Cup qualifier.
Apart from East Bengal, the likes of Shillong Lajong would also be affected. Lajong are set to play a friendly against a Japanese club during that time that will be visiting the country after an invitation from the Government of Meghalaya. Chennai City FC, who are all set to play in their second season in the I-League, have also requested the governing body to delay the start of the season since the club are shifting their base to Coimbatore and will be needing some more time to get their stadium ready.
While it would have been an easier job for the broadcasters if the two leagues ran almost simultaneously, the feeling that the I-League could lose its marketability to its counterpart ISL if both run at the same time is ever looming. The I-League, which has been India's top league since its inception, has been recently shoved to play second fiddle to the glitz, glamour and star power of the Indian Super League.
As per the AIFF website, the committee has been made well aware of the format of the new second division league and the decision to reduce the number of foreign inclusions to three in today's meeting, where the proposed fixture delay was also up for discussion and the AIFF has asked all the playing clubs to revert back within 72 hours giving their opinions on readiness of their teams and infrastructure to finalize the schedule.
The new format of the Hero I-League would see 20 teams participating, which include 12 teams from various states and eight reserve or B teams of the participating clubs in the top tier or the Indian Super League.