New Delhi: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is having a second thought about the much-awaited meeting between its President Praful Patel and the I-League clubs, which won’t happen before the AIFF takes stock of the situation on its own about the future roadmap of Indian domestic football.
Earlier, AIFF officials had repeatedly said that Patel was reluctant to meet the I-League clubs since they refused to play the Super Cup in Bhubaneswar despite assurances from the federation President.
However, according to sources, senior AIFF officials could now hold a meeting with its marketing partners later this month to chalk out a strategy under the current circumstances before Patel could explain the plan to the I-League clubs. However, no dates for the proposed meeting has been fixed.
The main point of discussion in the meeting, it is believed, will be to finalise whether to invite new bid documents to induct fresh clubs in the Indian Super League (ISL) for the 2019-20 season and officially make the ISL the top league or to continue with the present arrangement of playing two leagues simultaneously.
“Given the current situation and the time constraint, the chances of opening fresh bids for next season’s ISL seem unlikely,” said a source, who is in the know of things.
“But the I-League clubs should be told that their interests would be kept in mind before drawing up the future roadmap,” the source added.
The clubs would once again be told that though the I-League could be reduced to League One in near future, the promotion/relegation system would return in the next four to five seasons once the contractual obligations between ISL organisers and the franchises are over.
The reluctance of the ISL organisers to invite fresh bids for new ISL franchises could be gauged from the fact that neither of the two Kolkata clubs, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, seem prepared enough to enter the ISL next season.
While East Bengal are not convinced about paying the hefty franchise fee, Mohun Bagan are yet to find suitable sponsors to raise funds. ISL organisers, however, can induct a team from another city like Hyderabad or Ahmedabad.
The AIFF is aware that the present arrangement of playing two leagues simultaneously could be continued for maximum one more season as the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) allowed it to happen on a strictly temporary basis.
The Asian body granted the AFC Cup and AFC Champions League spots for the winners of ISL and I-League, respectively, on the request of AIFF, but could now start insisting on having one league in the country. IANS
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