AFC has given ISL clubs some reprieve by granting the champion club a right to play in the AFC Cup. However, the football’s governing body for Asia has termed the step “as a short term solution”.
The Indian Super League Champions will get a qualification berth in the AFC Cup. This is official now. The Competitions Committee of the Asian Football Confederation has formally approved the All India Football Federation recommendation. The decision was taken at an AFC Competitions Committee meeting in Doha. AFC has announced in a Press release.
The has approved the ISL to be played alongside the I League in 2017 and 2018, terming it a “temporary short-term bridging solution”. Now, the I-League champions will play in the AFC Champions League play-off round and the ISL Champions will play in the AFC Cup preliminary stage as long as all clubs adhere to the AFC rules and regulations.
AIFF’s recommendation to the AFC was that the ISL will replace the Federation Cup, whose winner is currently allocated an AFC Cup preliminary stage place.
“The committee accepted the AIFF recommendation to have the I-League and ISL run simultaneously as a ‘temporary short-term bridging solution’,” an AFC media release states. “AIFF’s recommendation to the AFC was that the ISL will replace the Federation Cup, whose winner is currently allocated an AFC Cup preliminary stage place.
Therefore, the Committee approved that the I-League champions will play in the AFC Champions League play-off round and the ISL Champions will play in the AFC Cup preliminary stage – as long as all clubs adhere to the AFC rules and regulations, particularly club licensing, from 2018,” the release added.
“The situation will be reviewed on a yearly basis with conditions which, in addition to adherence to club licensing regulations, include promotion, production, a player allocation system and the following the road map agreed between the AFC and Indian football stakeholders at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur on June 7, 2017.”
Like the ISL, the I-League too is looking at having 10 teams and has already issued an advertisement seeking new clubs. The AIFF expects interested bids from Kerala, Rajasthan and New Delhi. By the end of August, replacements for Bengaluru FC, which joined the ISL, and a team from west India that may pull out are likely to be known.