The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has invited fresh bids from new clubs from across the nation to take part in the 2017-18 season of the I-League.
An official notice has been issued for bids from some of the major cities in the country like Bengaluru, Trivandrum, Mumbai, New Delhi, Ranchi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bhopal, Lucknow, Ahmedabad and Malappuram.
Under this invitation to tender, the winning bidders will be granted the right to own and operate a new club which will compete in I-League in each year from 2017 onwards and will have the opportunity (if applicable and subject to qualification) to compete in the AFC (Asian Football Confederation’s) club competitions.
Speaking about the invitation of new bids, the CEO of the I-League Sunanda Dhar said: “We are looking forward to welcoming vibrant outfits in Hero I-League. The new entrants will surely bring newer challenges and fresh football dynamics which would provide more competitiveness and thrill to the league.”
Last season the I-League had ten teams Aizawl FC, Mohun Bagan, Kingfisher East Bengal, Bengaluru FC, Shillong Lajong FC, Churchill Brothers Sports Club, DSK Shivajians FC, Chennai City FC, Minerva Punjab FC and Mumbai FC.
For the 2017/18 season the I-League will be without two-time champions Bengaluru who have since moved to the Indian Super-League (ISL) for the forth coming season and Mumbai who were relegated at the end of last season for finishing bottom. I-League 2 champions Neroca FC won promotion to the premier division to replace Mumbai.
The winning bidders will be allowed to take part in the country’s elite league from 2017 season onwards and would be immune from relegation for three seasons, as has been the case with teams getting direct entry in the past four seasons.
The I-League will run concurrently with the ISL and as of now both leagues will see the champion team go on to represent India in AFC competitions