The I-League core committee approved the plans for the 2015-16 I-League 2nd division matches to be played on a home and away basis. The preliminary rounds will be played in the ‘conference’ system with the teams being divided into Eastern and Western conferences.
Top 3 teams from each conference will qualify for the final round of the 2015-2016 season of 2nd division I-League. This new approach is adopted by AIFF to give the teams the benefit of playing in the ‘home’ and ‘away’ conditions.
Furthermore, in an attempt to efficiently widen the Indian Footballing scenario, the committee approved a qualifying round for the 2nd Division League 2016-17. The top two teams from each state, excluding Hero I-League 2015-16 and 2nd Division League 2015-16 participants, will get to participate in the qualifiers and these clubs will act as a feeder system to the 2nd Division League 2016-17.
AIFF has also taken a major step to expand the youth leagues in the country as this season’s U-15 and U-18 League will see an increased participation of more than 25 Teams each. The respective Leagues will kick-off in 4 zones across India from the first week of October 2015. The 4 zones are formed as:
- Guwahati and Shillong Zone
- Maharashtra Zone
- Goa Zone
- Kolkata and Jharkhand Zone
The zonal matches will be played in a ‘home and away’ format. The rest of India zones will be played at a central venue in the month of November and December 2015.
These are the 11 tentative teams that are going to participate in the 2015-16 season of I-League 2nd division, which subject to fulfillment of the Club Licensing criteria. LoneStar Kashmir FC, who were the runner-ups in last season’s competition will be one of the favorites this season along with three-time I-League winners Dempo.
Legendary Kolkata club Mohammedan Sporting Club will also have an outside chance of qualifying for the top division while Pune club DSK Shivajians FC cannot be written off after the signing of Derek Pereira as their head coach. Guwahati FC, Gangtok Himalayan FC, NEROCA FC, PIFA Sports, Minerva FAC, Kenkre Sports and Fateh Hyderabad FC will complete the roster of the league.
Dempo were allegedly offered the chance of playing in the I-League next season, but the club rejected the option stating that they want to work on youth development.