Indian clubs could be banned by AFC if unified league is not started by 2019-20
What's the story?
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is under severe pressure as Indian clubs now have the possibility of facing a ban if a single unified football league system is not created by 2019-2020.
In case you didn't know...
The Indian football structure currently comprises two leagues, namely the Indian Super League (ISL) and the I-League. The ISL was started back in 2014, as an initiative to revive the culture of football in our country, while the I-league was the premier tournament till then.
Speculation has been rife regarding the merging of the two leagues, but no steps have been taken so far.
The heart of the matter
If India is unable to start a unified league by 2019-2020, the Indian clubs are likely to face an Asian ban, according to a 17-page report set by Alex Philips of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and Nic Coward of FIFA.
The report states that the top tier of the league should have 12 teams from 2019-20. It will consist of 10 teams from the ISL with one of the other teams being the champions of the 2018-19 I-League.
In this way, two teams will be added till 2021-22, when the league will be expanded to a 16-team affair. From then, each of the bottom two teams will be relegated, while the top two teams from the second tier will be promoted.
There are several problems which arise as AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das said that he is in no rush to merge the leagues.
The ISL and the I-League were played simultaneously this season with the former gaining more attention than the latter considering the fact that it is a franchise-based league and much more glamorous. Having a unified league makes more sense in the Indian football structure. If the condition of Indian football needs to be improved, a merger is the only option.