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I-League 2020-21: AIFF proposes shorter league format 

I-League 2020-21 will be played behind closed doors in Kolkata
I-League 2020-21 will be played behind closed doors in Kolkata
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 04 Oct 2020, 20:50 IST
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All India Football Federation (AIFF) has proposed a shorter format for I-League 2020-21 to comply with the regulations of the bio-bubble imposed by the coronavirus pandemic. The entire league will be played behind closed doors in Kolkata.

Single-legged league followed by championship and relegation in I-League 2020-21

The federation met with the 10 participating clubs on a virtual platform on Saturday and discussed the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to be maintained during the I-League. Clubs will be required to produce three consecutive negative results for the coronavirus of each player and staff from an ICMR-approved lab before entering the league bio-bubble.

Teams will be placed in three separate hotels while league officials will be kept in a fourth. Salt Lake Stadium, Kalyani Stadium and Barasat Stadium are reported to be the favourites to host I-League 2020-21 in Kolkata. The federation is hoping to kick-start the league by November 28 but a few of the clubs have asked for a postponement to finalise the club rosters.

The federation has come up with a proposal to shorten the span of the league to ensure player safety and not violate the bio-bubble. It has been proposed to make it a single-legged league.

The top 6 teams are expected to then battle it out in a separate format for the championship while the bottom 5 teams are expected to battle it out to stave off relegation. This format will reduce the number of games from 110 to a maximum 80 games.

'We have proposed a shorter format of the league to the participating clubs. We are still in a discussion stage with all stakeholders for a swift organisation of the league. The I-League qualifiers will serve as a model to implement the SOPs in the I-League'' said an AIFF representative close to the development.

However, the proposed league structure is open to suggestions and recommendations by majority of the I-League clubs and will only be approved in a later virtual meeting between the clubs and the AIFF League Committee.

The I-League qualifiers are set to begin on October 8 in Kolkata with 5 teams vying to become the 11th team to participate in I-League 2020-21. The I-League qualifiers will become the first major sports event to be hosted in India after the suspension of all sporting activities due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Published 04 Oct 2020, 20:50 IST
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