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Football: I-League clubs agree to simultaneous running of ISL

I-League clubs on Thursday agreed to the simultaneous running of the Indian Super League (ISL) for the upcoming season but on the condition that their matches be broadcast on the Star Sports platform with good quality production, proper marketing, promotion and scheduling.

In a meeting at the Football House here, the clubs also called for a task force to be set up to review the I-League on a regular basis. The meeting was attended by All India Football Federation (AIFF) League Committee Chairman Subrata Dutta, AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das and I-League CEO Sunando Dhar.

The clubs also stated that the travel subsidy needs to be increased and that AIFF should also allocate a budget for the promotion of the I-League. The I-League clubs also called for permission to register eight foreign players of whom at least two should be of Asian origin, and to use a maximum of five foreign players on the field, at least one of whom should be of Asian origin.

Dutta, who chaired the meeting, said all the recommendations of the I-League clubs will be placed before the League Committee whose meeting is scheduled on July 5. "The impasse has been broken. There will be two Asian origin players in the squad and one in the starting XI of an I-League team. The Asian quota is not there in the ISL," Dutta told IANS.

It was learnt that among the seven clubs which attended the meeting at the Football House, AIFF headquarters, two did not agree to the initial proposal of having eight foreigners in the squad and five in the playing XI. Besides East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, the other I-League clubs who attended the meeting were Minerva Punjab FC, Chennai City FC, defending champions Aizawl FC, DSK Shivajians and Churchill Brothers.

"Aizawl and Minerva had objections initially. This is being done to match the ISL as the I-league also does not want to be left behind. In terms of marketing and promotion, the league should do as much as it can to match up to ISL," a club official said. "There will be a meeting on July 5 where the demands we had would be ratified. More or less we are satisfied as most of our concerns were addressed," East Bengal assistant general secretary Shanti Ranjan Dasgupta said.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Wednesday gave its go-ahead to the AIFF proposal to run the two leagues simultaneously, and also to recognise the ISL, a requirement the franchise-based competition didn't have in its first three editions. For the next season, the I-League champions will play the 2019 Asian Champions League qualifiers.

The winners of the 10-team ISL that will run for five months beginning November will get an AFC Cup qualifying slot. Till 2016-17, it was given to the winners of the Federation Cup.

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