ISL set to expand, but Mumbai-Pune to merge


Mumbai City FC and FC Pune City might not be seen in their present form in the next edition of the Indian Soccer League, which is all set to be expanded to 10 teams from the present 8. The possibility of a 12-team ISL is not ruled out.

The city of Hyderabad is all set to be one of the 10 ISL teams from the next season. Fateh Hyderabad AFC is likely to be the City of Nizam representative club in the ISL. The club, founded in 2015, is owned by city-based businessmen Yogesh Mourya and Aditya Narayanan.

The biggest boost for ISL may come from Ranchi. Tata group, which has been supporting Indian soccer through its Tata Football Academy, is tipped to own the ISL Ranchi franchisee.

However, the State of Maharashtra hence forth might only get on team in the ISL. Talks are reportedly on between Mumbai and Pune to enter a joint team in the forthcoming season of ISL. Mumbai City FC and FC Pune City have been taking part in the ISL for the last three seasons. I-League club Bengaluru FC will be the tenth team in the league.

Football Sports Development Limited, the IMG-Reliance arm that organizes the ISL, had already floated the tender through ‘Invitation to Bid’ on May 12. The last day for bid submission for the Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Cuttack, Durgapur, Hyderabad, Jamshedpur, Kolkata, Ranchi, Siliguri and Thiruvananthapuram franchisees is May 24.

Kolkata giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan are yet to decide on their participation in the ISL. Although East Bengal has picked the bid documents, Mohun Bagan is yet to decide on their next course of action. A lot will depend on the meeting between the representatives of the two clubs’ with AIFF secretary Kushal Das in Delhi on Monday.

If the Kolkata giants mutually agree to participate in the ISL, the league can be a 12 team affair with both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan joining the other I League team Bengaluru FC.

Ironically there is no possibility for the I League champions Aizawl FC to get an appearance in the commercially stronger ISL.

Aizawl, however, will continue to participate in the I-League, which formally enjoy the status of the national league of Indian football.