Champions of I-League will receive promotion to ISL from 2023-24 season

Champions of I-League will be promoted to ISL from 2023-24 season

In a recent development, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) announced on Saturday that the winners of I-League will receive promotion to the first tier of Indian football – ISL from next season on wards. This news will provide a lot of motivation and relief to the dozen clubs hustling in the second tier.

It was decided almost 3 years ago and as per AIFF’s decision, the promotion system will come into effect from next season. However, in order to get promoted, all the outfits from I-League will have to comply with a number of strict criterias. The Winners of I-League will have to attain Premier 1 licensing so that they can be eligible to feature in tournaments organized by AFC (Asian Football Confederation) including the ISL.

The minimum requirements of Premier 1 licensing falls across categories like Sporting, Infrastructure, Administrative, Legal and financial. It can prove to be a challenge for the I-League sides as they might not have enough money to fulfill all the above mentioned expenditures.

Meanwhile, the Second-tier clubs are also required to attain Premier 2 licensing which quite similar to the Premier 1 license. However, there isn’t much strictness in Premier 2 licensing and leniency is shown on the grounds of grassroot programmes, first team staff, security measures, in-stadia facilities for match officials, spectators, medical personnel and VIPs attending the fixtures.

Many teams in I-League struggle to meet even the basic licensing rules and it will be interesting to see how they acquire the must Premier 1 license. Moreover, certain ISL clubs have not been able to fulfill some of the requirements despite having a better financial back-up than the I-League clubs.

It was only last year when Kerala Blasters FC, Hyderabad FC and East Bengal failed to obtain Premier 1 licensing but thanks to some exemptions, the trio were allowed to take part in ISL. Financially weaker sides in I-League have a window of time until the middle of 2023 to attain the required licensing to feature in the top events.

It will be a sigh of relief to some clubs and a burden for some given the financial obligations but for now all the clubs have received the assurances they had been looking for. 3 years ago in 2019, the Indian Super League was classified as Division 1 of Indian football, replacing the I-League.

Meanwhile, the clubs in I-League were promised to receive promotion from 2023-24 season and they will not have to pay 15 crore INR that ISL clubs pay as an average franchise fee to the (FSDL) Football Sports Development Limited. Other than that, the promotion and relegation system in Indian football will come into effect from 2024-25 season on wards.

Since, I-League outfits are not forced to pay 15 crores to FSDL, they are automatically ineligible to receive revenue from the Central pool that ISL clubs get.

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