The All India Football Federation (AIFF) announced a new cup competition to be held from the 2017/18 season, along with the two existing leagues – the I-League and the Indian Super League.
The Super Cup, which will pit teams from the two top leagues in the country against each other, will see a total of 16 teams fighting it out against each other in the main draw.
Previously, the Indian football calendar had the Federation Cup or the Fed Cup, where the top teams would play in a group and knockout format.
However, in a complete overhaul, the AIFF has decided to go with a knockout format for this tournament.
The top six teams from each of the two leagues have been given direct entry into the main draw or the Round of 16 stage of the Super Cup. However, teams that finished in the bottom four spots in the I-League and the ISL will also get a chance to participate, though they would have to play qualifiers.
The six teams that have got a direct qualification from the ISL are Bengaluru FC, Chennaiyin FC, FC Goa, FC Pune City, Jamshedpur FC, and Kerala Blasters. The I-League teams that made it to the Round of 16 are Minerva Punjab, Neroca FC, Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Aizawl FC and Shillong Lajong.
Meanwhile, the likes of Mumbai City FC, Delhi Dynamos, ATK and NorthEast United FC from the ISL, and Gokulam Kerala, Chennai City FC, Churchill Brothers and Indian Arrows from the I-League are set to play the qualifiers, which get underway from March 15.
The Super Cup will be played at the Kalinga Sports Complex, in Bhubaneswar, an arena that has hosted other top events like the FIH Hockey World League Finals last year. The same venue is also set to host the FIH Hockey World Cup in December.
There has been a fair amount of controversy surrounding the Super Cup this season, with I-League champions Minerva Punjab threatening to pull out of the tournament, citing financial constraints. The AIFF, however, has said that certain steps could be taken against the Chandigarh-based club if they do decide to pull out of the Super Cup.
On the other hand, a number of critics have also criticised the AIFF for not including the 2nd Division I-League clubs in the Super Sup. The general argument here has been that all the three tiers of Indian football should be involved in a cup competition like this.