The All India Football Federation is all set to approve the Indian Super League as India’s top football league in an executive committee meeting that will be summoned next month, The Times of India reported.
According to the report, AIFF is set to “honour” the contract with IMG-Reliance which has a clause to make ISL the “most senior and prestigious football league in India”.
“It’s in the contract (that ISL will be the top league). Initially, we felt that let the tournament happen and then we will see. After five years, we have to honour the contract. Let the executive committee decide,” said AIFF general secretary Kushal Das told the newspaper.
The contract which Das mentioned is the Masters Rights Agreement (MRA) signed originally between AIFF and IMG-Reliance and now between AIFF and Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), a subsidiary of IMG-Reliance where Star is also a partner.
AIFF also granted FSDL the “full and unfettered right and ability to establish the ISL and to decide upon the format, rules, and structure of the ISL and the teams and players which will compete in it.” in the agreement that bagged AIFF Rs 700 crore, according to the report.
AIFF has maintained ambiguity about the domestic pecking order in Indian Football for a while. It initially stated I-League will be India’s premier football league while ISL was only a competition. However, that stance has slowly changed with AIFF stating in a meeting in 2016 that I-League would be discontinued and another competition named League One with no promotion and continental slots would be introduced.
With ISL set to be the top dog in Indian football, the solitary AFC Champions League playoff spot will be offered to its winners with the Super Cup winners getting the AFC Cup slot. The Super Cup too could be expanded to a new 20-team format from next season with each team getting a minimum of three games, however, there is little or no clarity over the issue.