Kolkata, Goa team confusion puts 2017 ISL, I-league merger in jeopardy
The merger which was set to occur after the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup will be indefinitely delayed.
The very core of Indian football was shaken last year, when the All India Football Federation (AIFF) announced their merger of the seasonal Indian Super League (ISL) and the more permanent, I-league to begin as early as 2017. However, sources within AIFF confirmed to Sportskeeda that it is highly unlikely for the transition to take place in such a less time.
Our source said, “A very difficult decision is yet to be made on who will represent teams from the Kolkata and Goa region. We would obviously like to sort this out, but obviously, we would need the consensus of all parties involved. For example, we cannot simply ask a club like East Bengal or Mohun Bagan to not be represented in the league as it has been the backbone of Indian football for the longest time."
"A sound decision needs to be taken on where the city teams will be placed. Until then, no decision will be taken. We want it to happen by 2017, but its looks highly unlikely right now.", the source continued.
The first division (ISL) which will consist of 10 teams has a limited number of slots. Kolkata has three teams vying for one slot, whereas Goa has four. The state is represented in the ISL by FC Goa, and stalwart clubs such as Salgaocar, Sporting Clube de Goa and Dempo ply their trade in the I-league.
Our source added, “We have decided to give all 8 teams an automatic entry into the top division. The remaining two slots will be decided on performance and professional handling of the club. Yes, Bengaluru’s recent performances have helped their cause, and they are also the only team from their city."
"So it does make sense to accommodate them. The remaining slot should also be filled by a region that is not being represented. However, considering the history Goa and Kolkata clubs have, it is unfair to rule them out. It is highly unlikely that the proposal will have changes in terms of team structure.”
On being asked whether Mohun Bagan losing their AFC license would affect the merger, our source added, “This is a recent development and the Federation has not got a chance to sit down discuss the matter. However, we have a meeting scheduled tomorrow on how we can help those teams tackle the issue. As of now, there has been no exchange of dialogue.”
Even AIFF President Praful Patel confirmed that the merger is unlikely in 2017, during a recent press conference. With a major lack of clarity over the issue, the merger could be further delayed till mid-2018.
More Indian Football news, transfer rumours, analysis and features at Sportskeeda.com