New Delhi: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the apex football governing body of the continent has reportedly asked All India Football Federation (AIFF) to revamp the league by next season itself, according to an insider of the Federation.
The AIFF had earlier sent a roadmap to the AFC for a temporary three-year league system, where the league table-toppers of the Indian Super League (ISL) would be awarded a spot to the AFC Champions League playoff spot, the highest club competition in Asia, while the winners of the I-league would be awarded a spot to the preliminary round of the AFC Cup, Asia's second-tier club competition, a direct exchange of places between the two leagues.
Inspite of vehement protests from the I-league clubs, the Federation decided to push this roadmap, and now it is nearly confirmed that the AFC will put their stamp on the proposal.
"It was only a matter of time (that AFC would give a green signal). The AFC is very cooperative with AIFF and will agree to anything that could solve the league problem.", said the insider, on condition of anonymity.
"They (the AFC) want the AIFF to restructure the league in 2020-21 season itself. They said that the leagues are not running in the line of AFC-FIFA guidelines and we cannot be given a special exemption.", the insider further added.
The insider also told that with the new roadmap set to be put into operation, it will be much easier to restructure the league for the Federation and Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), the owners of ISL.
"It will be highly possible (to restructure the league), once the new system is put into place. Last season I-league winners were to compete in Champions League, so it was not possible to place the league winner directly in second division."
"The AFC Cup participants can however compete being in the second division too, unlike ACL, so the AIFF can make this happen," he explained.
According to the AFC rules, the participants of AFC Champions League could not compete in the competition while playing in the second division of their home league, and this was a major roadblock for the AIFF towards making ISL the top division. But now with the new roadmap, it is apparent that the Federation has cleared the major hurdle towards making the elite league the top division of the country.