The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has released the fixtures for the first ten rounds of games for the 2020-21 season of the I-League. The second tier of Indian football will feature 11 teams this season. The remaining fixtures will be announced at a later date by the federation.
While the departure of Kolkata giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan to the Indian Super League (ISL) came as a major blow to the competition, the entry of Sudeva FC from Delhi and promotion of Mohammedan SC will add extra sheen to the division. All the matches will be held in Kolkata and nearby Kalyani keeping in mind the COVID protocol and bio-bubble measures.
The two aforementioned new sides will kick off the tournament on the 9th of January at the Salt Lake stadium. This will be followed by matches between Roundglass Punjab FC and Aizawl FC as well as Gokulam Kerala and Chennai City FC on the same day. Three slots have been allotted for the matches, 2 pm, 4 pm and 7 pm.
I-League Fixtures (Source: AIFF Media)
The tournament this season will see somewhat of an unusual format due to the pandemic-induced time-boundedness. All teams will face each other once. Then, according to the points table, the teams will be divided into the Championship Stage (Top 6) and Relegation Stage (Bottom 5).
Teams in both groups will then play each other once again. The team with the maximum cumulative points from the Championship stage will be crowned winners and will get to qualify for the 2022 AFC Cup group stage. The team with the lowest cumulative points from the Relegation stage will be relegated to the second division for next season. Like Sudeva FC, next season will also see Visakhapatnam-based Sreenidhi FC compete in the I-League after their entry was confirmed earlier by the AIFF.