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