Restructuring of the country’s domestic football is on the cards next year with Mohun Bagan and East Bengal likely to play in the Indian Super League from the 2019-20 season, according to officials.
Both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have been pushing for an ISL entry but the matter has been struck on the issue of franchisee fee of Rs 15 crores, which the two Kolkata giants were not willing to pay.
At a press conference to launch this season’s I-League beginning October 26, All India Football Federation (AIFF) senior vice-president Subratta Dutta tried to evade questions on the matter but dropped enough hints that the anticipated restructuring will take place next year. Asked why Churchill Brothers were not relegated from the I-League last season, Dutta said,
“Now that the restructuring is going to happen, we thought there was no harm in retaining Churchill Brothers as relegating them would see no representation from the whole of West India.”
Last season, Goan side Churchill Brothers finished ninth in the 10-team I-League, while the AIFF’s development side Indian Arrows ended at the bottom.
East Bengal player Lalrindika Ralte, who represented the Kolkata side at the launch ceremony, was more direct than Dutta, though unwittingly. “I heard that East Bengal is going to play in the ISL next season, so this will be our last I-League campaign. We have to do well and hopefully win the title as we could not do that in the last season,” he said. East Bengal was in contention for the title till the fag end of the I-League last season before Minerva Punjab won it on the final match day with 35 points. Neroca, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal finished second, third and fourth respectively on 32, 31 and 31 points respectively.
An AIFF source also indicated that both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal will most likely get entry into the ISL next season. This year, the I-League will be competed among 11 teams. (PTI)
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