ISL 2019-20 to begin on October 20; Kerala Blasters to host ATK on opening day
This will be the third straight year the ISL kicks off with a match between Kerala Blasters and ATK, with the 2017-18 edition opening in Kochi, and the iconic Salt Lake Stadium hosting the 2018-19 opener.
ATK had held Blasters to a 0-0 draw in the 2017-18 opener, but went down meekly in a 2-0 reverse at home in last season's opener.
Both teams have new managers this year, with the inaugural ISL winning head coach, Antonio Lopez Habas, back at the helm for ATK. Eelco Schattorie has made the move south to the Blasters, after leading NorthEast United to their first ever semifinal appearance last season.
The second game of the new season sees a rematch of last year's semifinal, with Bengaluru FC hosting NorthEast United. The Blues won that semifinal 4-2 on aggregate, after a 3-0 win in the second leg at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.
The regular league season will end on February 23, 2020, with 90 league phase games scheduled. These will be followed by the semifinals and the final, the schedule for which will be announced at a later date.
However, no venues have been named yet in the fixture list, with uncertainty still persisting over whether FC Pune City and Delhi Dynamos would relocate to another city. There is also reported uncertainty over Bengaluru FC's home, with the club embroiled in a legal tussle over their use of the Kanteerava Stadium.
The ISL released the fixtures with the disclaimer, "All match dates, teams, and timings are subject to change," which encapsulates the uncertainty that still surrounds a few of the clubs.