Reframing of league structures, player transfers, administrative changes - Indian football has been going through some major ups and downs in the past few months, quietly so, in the right direction or may be otherwise.
The state of the game is at a crucial juncture in its history and the tug of war between the stakeholders with their respective interests in place, have grabbed a lot of eyeballs and opinions from all corners of the country.
While the off-the-field speculations are in full swing the good news is, the national team has been sweating it out on-the-field under their new head coach Igor Stimac at the national camp. India is about to play their second tournament in two months and Stimac will be looking to strengthen his style of play in the national colours.
We bring you a round-up of 5 things that you need to know to keep yourself informed with Indian Football.
ISL is India’s new top tier League, I-league winner to get AFC Cup Spot
Some major reframing as far as the league structure is concerned, the Indian Super League is about to be announced as the top-tier league while the I League will now be pulled down as the second-tier league in the country. In the executive meeting of the AIFF scheduled on July 9th, the AIFF and FSDL will put stamp on paper to officially make the announcement.
With that, the winner of the Indian Super League will get to represent in the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) Champions League preliminary qualifiers from the 2019-20 season onwards.
Previously, the winner of the I-league would get a slot in the qualifiers of the AFC Champions League and an automatic slot in the AFC Cup in case they lose the qualifying game. But now from the upcoming season, they will only be getting a berth at the AFC Cup, a slot which was previously availed to the winner of the Indian Super League (starting from the 17-18 season).
Notably, no Indian team has ever qualified for the group stages of the Asian Champions League. Till date, only Mohun Bagan(4) and Churchill Brothers(1) are the only Indian teams to have won the qualifying games.
The AFC Cup which can be deemed as the Europa League of Asia has however received encouraging performances from the Indian sides with Bengaluru FC reaching the finals of the 2016 season and East Bengal and Dempo reaching the last four in the 2013 and 2008 season respectively.
The change in the reform has been visualised as the shift in the favour of power from I-league to ISL and it has raised a lot of eyebrows. Several I-league clubs have turned against the AIFF for a possible justification on their future. It only remains to be seen if any of this help Indian football in the longer scheme of things