The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is sure to bring certain changes to Indian football come next season. While both the Indian Super League (ISL) and the I-League will be held in a single region, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is further considering a shorter format for the I-League 2020-21 season.
It has been learnt that various possibilities are being discussed within the AIFF and one of the suggestions, to divide the clubs into two groups and then, have a knockout round to determine the champions, seems to have gained momentum.
Given that the ISL will, in all likelihood, be held in Goa, the AIFF had to go with the Kolkata region to host the upcoming campaign of the I-League. But with the FIFA Women’s U17 World Cup being scheduled to be held in February, the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata will be unavailable for quite some time from January at least. This means that the window to host the I-League, in effect, reduces by two more months. As such, the shorter format has been pitched.
The idea is that the 10 teams will be divided into two groups with the matches being played across Kolkata, Barasat and Kalyani. At the end of the group stage, the top two teams of each group will feature in the semifinals which will be followed by the grand final.
A final decision regarding the format of I-League 2020-21 could be taken in the next executive meeting on 14th August. Health protocols and hygiene will also be discussed in the meeting. The name of the team who have won the bid for a direct corporate entry to I-League is also likely to be announced.
Interestingly, the Chinese Super League (CSL) adopted this format for the season after the start date was pushed back by 5 months due to the pandemic.