TFG Logo


I-League   /   Aizawl FC   /   East Bengal   /   Shillong Lajong FC   /   Mumbai FC   /   Punjab FC   /   Chennai City FC   /  

I-League 2017: AIFF refuses IMG-Reliance advice not to add new clubs to I-League

IN A RARE INSTANCE, the AIFF officials appear to have gone directly against the wishes of their commercial partners IMG-Reliance regarding the operation of the I-League 2017-18 season.

With Bengaluru FC having made a jump from the top division I-League to the new AFC recognized parallel league ISL and DSK Shivajians still unsure whether or not they will field a team in the upcoming I-League season, the AIFF had made it known long ago that they would seek to include new direct-entry corporate clubs in the top division's next season. There was already interest from multiple clubs from Kerala, Ozone FC from Bengaluru and some other potential club owners regarding this.

Everything seemingly went according to plans, as the Federation published a newspaper ad earlier today asking for new teams from multiple specified cities spread across Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Jharkhand.

But according to a report in Ananda Bazar Patrika, things did not go as smoothly as everybody desired. Apparently, there was an email from a senior official at IMG-Reliance, who are AIFF's commercial partners, and control almost every aspect of ISL and I-League. The email advised AIFF not to add new club to I-League.

Now, I-League has suffered multiple club fatalities over the last few years, especially after the emergence of the ISL. If the league fails to make up for the loss of Shivajians and the departure of ISL, they will be left with just 8 clubs, which is embarrassing for the top division. But purported email from the IMG-Reliance official seems to have encouraged AIFF to send I-League further towards that decline, saying adding teams to the top division would lead to "problems." The email also advised AIFF not to add any clubs from a place where they already have an ISL team. The email was addressed to AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das.

But AIFF decided not to heed those words and go ahead with inclusion of new clubs to I-League. An AIFF official quoted in the report said,

"I-League is the top division league of India. We want to spread it to new cities, we're not changing our decision no matter who opposes."

I-League and ISL are both kicking off in November and both are expected to feature 10 clubs each, unless I-League fails to generate interest for new teams.

Get the latest in the world of Sports, Teams, and Players! Free Delivery to your Inbox.