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Aizawl FC could make a backdoor entry into ISL

The I-League champions are looking for corporate sponsors to help them enter ISL.

Aizawl are the current I-League champions

I-League champions Aizawl FC could make a shocking entry into the Indian Super League next season as they are locked in talks with corporations who would be willing to sponsor them. The Mizoram outfit are looking for funds to enter the ISL, and they are hoping a big conglomerate comes to their aid.

Aizawl’s future in the highest level of Indian football has been thrown into jeopardy after the AIFF planned to increase the duration of ISL to seven months from next season onward. Although Indian football’s governing body has maintained that I-League will still remain the country’s top league, the extension of ISL’s duration would certainly mean a death knell for the decade-old I-League.

Therefore, it is almost certain that the I-League will enjoy diminished coverage henceforth owing to the ISL’s greater pulling power and financial returns. 

According to sources close to Sportskeeda, Aizawl are looking for a principal sponsor but the club are keeping things under wraps because of the “People’s Club” image they have created with their fairy tale title win this season. Should the deal to join ISL fall through, it would paint Aizawl in a bad light, leaving them in a situation where the sheen of their title win will fade considerably.

However, Aizawl also have reasons to look out for potential tie-ups because of the fact that the club’s image is an attractive one at the moment and this is potentially a good time for them to cash in on their recent success.

Furthermore, another attraction to link up with Aizawl is that the I-League champions will play in the AFC Champions League next season, so the potential benefits of any corporate to sponsor the I-League champions is immense.

However, one sticking point is the fact that out of the 10 cities shortlisted for the bidding process to invite new teams to the 2017–18 ISL, none is from North East India. That is a potential problem for Aizawl but it can be circumvented if they play out of another city and, after a brief period, move into their home state of Mizoram.

The Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Aizawl doesn’t adhere to AFC criteria, hence renovation work at the ground has already been started. The Mizoram State Government is actively involved in the stadium scheme of things, but should Aizawl consider playing in the ISL, they will have to cough up a franchise fee of Rs 15 crores.

In such a scenario, it remains to be seen whether Aizawl will be defending their I-League title next season or fight it out among the cash-rich ISL clubs. 

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