Margao: All India Football Federation president Kalyan Chaubey has asked the Indian Super League (ISL) to ensure there’s promotion and relegation in India’s top-tier football league to ensure fair competition.
The ISL was launched in 2014 as a “tournament” that lasted a little over two months. It kicked off in October and concluded before Christmas. Five years later, an expanded ISL became the top league with the winners gaining automatic qualification to the AFC Champions League.
The league has expanded from eight to 11 teams since inception, but there is no word yet on when promotion and relegation will be introduced.
“It’s true that the league is nine-years-old, and right from the beginning, or from the fifth season onwards, should not have been a closed league,” the AIFF president told TOI on Saturday. “Any competition if it’s closed, then it’s not a competition. I think, this is one area all stakeholders need to brainstorm and come to a point how we can make it an open league.”
Chaubey, a former India goalkeeper, said with a 10 or 12 team league, interest dies down from teams who are no longer involved in the title or qualification race. Without fear of relegation, teams can sometimes be disinterested in the rest of the campaign.
“Teams can sometimes be left with no motivation. This will never help any competition. This is high time the league becomes open. Promotion and relegation should be allowed. Sooner the better,” said Chaubey.
According to the roadmap agreed by stakeholders, RoundGlass Punjab FC, who won the I-League this year, should qualify for next season’s ISL, “subject to fulfilment of all financial criteria.”
That should not be a problem for a financially-stable club like Punjab FC, but other clubs fear it could be used to keep them out, even if they win the I-League, India’s top-tier till ISL was launched.
According to the 2010 Master Rights Agreement between AIFF and IMG-Reliance, the “New League”, ISL in this case, was to be the “most senior and prestigious football league in India”.
The AIFF also granted IMG Reliance, and now FSDL, the “full and unfettered right and ability to establish the ISL and decide upon the format, rules, structure, teams and players which will compete in it”.

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