The 2020-21 season of the Indian Super League (ISL) will be held behind closed doors at multiple venues within a single region, the Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) revealed during a board meeting on Monday. The cash-rich franchise-based tournament is scheduled to tentatively begin on November 21.
Four regions shortlisted to host ISL's 2020-21 season
Kerala, Goa, West Bengal and the Northeast region have been shortlisted as the preferred regions to host the seventh edition of the ISL.
Three to four venues will serve as hosts of the ISL within a single region. The aim is to avoid air and rail travel to protect the health of the participating team members. The ISL teams will stay in protected areas to prevent any infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease.
The Northeast region and Kolkata, however, seem to be out of contention already due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis and the fact that they are set to host the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup 2021. Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan, Kolkata, and the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati, have been pegged as the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup 2021 venues.
The showpiece event is slated to kick off on February 17 and end on March 7. Both venues will have to be reserved for the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs (MYAS) and Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) officials for logistical preparation ahead of the World Cup. The rest of the venues in the eastern part of the country are also not in ready-to-play conditions.
Venues in Goa and Kerala
Goa and Kerala boast of a better coronavirus situation, with less than 3000 active cases in total compared to more than 13,000 active cases in the eastern part of India. Moreover, both states do not have venues reserved for the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup 2021.
Goa has the Duler Stadium, the Bambolim Stadium, Tilak Maidan and the Fatorda Stadium in close vicinity. All four venues have previously hosted I-League games. Meanwhile, the Chandrasekharan Nair Stadium, the EMS Stadium, the Greenfield Stadium, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and the Payannad Stadium are some playable grounds with good seating capacities in Kerala.
The governing bodies of football in each of these regions have been asked to submit a plausibility and status report of their major football stadiums to the FSDL and All India Football Federation (AIFF).
Change in foreign-player rules from the 2021-22 season of the ISL
A change in foreign-player rules from the 2021-22 season of the ISL was also discussed in the meeting. Clubs will be allowed to sign a minimum of four and a maximum of six foreign players. Four foreigners will be allowed on the pitch at a particular time. The I-League will implement the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) 3+1 foreign player rules from the 2020-21 season itself.Published 07 Jul 2020, 09:41 IST