AIFF revamps Indian football into 3-tier system
All India Football Federation (AIFF) has revamped the Indian footballing calendar into a three-tier system from the 2017-18 season. Indian Super League (ISL), now in its third year, will be India's premier football competition, followed by League 1 and League 2 as second and third tiers respectively. The I-League, which is currently the primary football league in India will be rechristened as League 1.
Founded in 1937, the All India football Federation (AIFF) is the apex administrative body, governing the game of football in India. AIFF is a member of FIFA (international governing body of football), Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and Indian Olympic Association AIFF hosts a number of tournaments at the national level, prominent ones being I League, Federation Cup and National Football Championship for Santosh Trophy.
Tier 1 or ISL will add to the existing eight teams, with tenders for the additional teams to be invited. The final number of teams, which has not been finalized, could be between 10 to 12 Tier 2 or League 1 will be expanded to 10 teams, from its existing 9. Tier 3 or League 2 will also be expanded to 10 teams.
The biggest decision and a potential bone of contention is that there will be no relegation or promotion from the ISL. On the other hand, there will be relegation from League 1 and promotion from League 2 to League 1.
Federation Cup, one of India's most prestigious domestic cup competitions will become 'Super Cup' from 2018. It will be contested by a total of 16 teams. 8 ISL teams and the top 4 League 1 teams will be guaranteed a place. The remaining 4 spots will be contested in a play-off format by rest of the teams in the league hierarchy.
The Nehru Cup, an invitational international tournament, will be replaced with Champions Cup from 2017. The teams ranked between 120 to 150 in the FIFA chart will be invited to participate in the two-week long tournament.
The financial revenue obtained by the AIFF from the three-tier structure will be shared among all the clubs. The matches of the three leagues will be broadcasted by AIFF's TV and commercial partners. ISL and League 1 will be aired on Star network with the addition of streaming on AIFF's digital platforms. League 2 will be broadcasted digitally and possibly on regional channels.
With the new three tier system, ISL will run from November to March only in 2017-18, due to India hosting the U-17 World Cup in September and October. ISL will be a seven-month affair from 2018-19 season, extending from September to March. League 1 and 2 will run parallel to the ISL. A women's League will also be run along with the three leagues.