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What is FSDL?- The body that wants to delay ISL promotion/relegation

In recent developments, the Football Sports Development Limited has come under fire for proposing a delay in the promotion/relegation model in the Indian Super League.

What is FSDL?- The body that wants to delay ISL promotion/relegation

Indian Super League trophy


Gautham Krishna

Published: 6 Oct 2022 1:52 PM GMT

Formulated in 2013, the Indian Super League (ISL) has had enormous involvement of corporates for its genesis and progress over the years. It was on 9 December 2010 that the All-India Football Federation (AIFF) had signed a 700-crore deal with Reliance Industries and International Management Group (IMG) for 15 years, aiming for a long-term growth and sustenance of football in India.

Subsequently, the deal paved way for the foundation of Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) on 2 September 2013 and were officially assigned with the authority to operate the ISL. They also became the commercial partner of AIFF.

FSDL's contributions

The outreach of football in India has grown under FSDL with the organization having boosted the commercial value of the sport considerably through the ISL. There has been also genuine focus from FSDL on nurturing young talents with the introduction of development leagues and cups.

In June 2021, FSDL on a meeting with CEOs of all ISL clubs suggested a new development league called Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) to be introduced in 2022.

"The proposed league would consist of youth and reserve teams of all possible ISL clubs, with the fundamental objective being the development of young talents across the nation", said an FSDL delegate in the meeting.

The inaugural season kicked-off on April 15, 2022 with 7 ISL clubs taking part in the tournament along with Reliance Foundation Youth Champs (RFYC). Table toppers Bengaluru FC and second-placed Kerala Blasters qualified for the Next Gen Cup 2022 organized by the Premier League in the UK.

To implement or not to implement?

The ISL having attained top-tier status from FIFA and AFC in 2019 has pushed I-League down, handing them second-tier stature. With the ISL being a closed league, FSDL under AIFF formulated a road map which suggested promoting I-league winners of 2022-23 to ISL and then implementing relegation and promotion model from 2024-25 season.

But, the arrival of COVID-19 has delayed progress in every possible angle and therefore, FSDL has recently proposed pushing the dates further in the road map by two years.

This has indeed disappointed I-League clubs as their headway has been hindered at least temporarily as a result of this. As per reports, it has been understood that the representatives of I-League clubs have informed FIFA delegates who are currently in India, that they would consider assuming legal actions if the road map is delayed any further.

Representatives of I-League clubs Mohammedan SC and Gokulam Kerala FC on a meeting in Delhi with FIFA members stated that they want AIFF to notify in writing that the I-League winners (2022-23) will be promoted to the ISL under I-League rules and regulations 2022-23.

"We expect the FSDL, AIFF and FIFA to take action in the interest of Indian football and ensure that the new model gets implemented as per the roadmap", said Mohammedan SC General Secretary Danish Iqbal.

It was guaranteed by officials of FIFA that a realistic plan of action would be finalized and implemented on the matter in December by the AIFF executive committee after considering every aspect of the issue.

"We have to look towards finding an acceptable solution keeping in mind the existing legal framework and the agreement between AIFF and its marketing partners. Interests of all stake holders would be looked into", said Nodar Akhalkatsi, Strategic Projects and MA Governance Director, FIFA.

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