India could have just one football league in 3-5 years
Sunando Dhar believes combing the I-League and the ISL is the way forward for Indian Football
The I-League and the Indian Super League can be combined by retaining the distinctive features of both leagues according to I-League chief executive Sunando Dhar. All India Football Federation (AIFF) general secretary Kushal Das also believes that India will have just one professional league within the next three to five years that will last 8-9 months.
In an interview, Dhar was quoted saying, “Football is all about fans, India is no different. Looking at the support bases of the two leagues it is clear they complement each other. The challenge will be to ensure we create a new league which preserves the distinctive features of both leagues.”
The I-League 2015 showed an important figure that the viewership of the I-League had increased by 13%, which is pretty impressive considering that it is considered the second League by the general football-watching population. What is important to remember is that the I-League began after a spectacular end to the first edition of the ISL.
The rise in viewership is an encouraging sign: Dhar
Dhar said that he was highly impressed by the improved viewership in this season’s I-League and it is a trend that looks likely to continue. “Last season also witnessed good turnouts at the two Northeastern clubs, Shillong Lajong and Royal Wahingdoh. Pune FC have drawn good home support over the last few seasons,” he told ESPN.
“Even Mumbai FC consistently drew near-capacity crowd last season. Though the Cooperage is a small ground with about 6,000 capacity, the trend is very encouraging as Mumbai is the commercial and cricket capital of the country.”
“Last season, the league's broadcast reach went up three-fold and television ratings grew 13 percent over 2013-14. So we've had an immensely encouraging season on all fronts,” Dhar added.
But a major question that arises is that will the two leagues, with two different administrative structures based on two absolute corners of the monetary table be able to get used to one another? But the most important question one must ask is what helps Indian football the most?
When asked about the issue Dhar plainly replied, “There are massive logistical problems in having two leagues. Having one league will eventually work out in the best interest of the country's football.”