Despite objection from some leading clubs, the All India Football Federation on Thursday decided to put the cap on the number of matches a player can play in domestic tournaments, including the I-League, to 40.
The decision, which aims at keeping the number of matches a player can play in local leagues to the minimum, will hit hard big clubs like Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Dempo and Churchill Brothers.
It will reduce the number of matches their top players can play in the local league which, in turn, would affect crowd presence.
Earlier, there was no limit on the number of matches a player could play, but the Asian Football Confederation has suggested that I-League players should not play in local leagues.
The federation, however, kept foreign players out of the 40-match rule. The decision has been ratified by the AIFF Executive Committee.
"I-League Players other than Foreign Players cannot play more than 40 Domestic Club Matches for this season," an AIFF statement said.
"For the avoidance of doubt, Domestic Club Matches include I-League, Federation Cup, Durand Cup, IFA Shield, Local Leagues and other AIFF approved tournaments but does not include International club tournaments," it said.
Curiously, the AIFF said if a player takes the field for less than 45 minutes in an I-League match, he can play in the local league that follows it.
"Any I-League Player who plays for less than 45 minutes in any I-League match during the season shall be eligible to play the immediately following Local League Match if any, during the season," the statement said.
The federation also decided to retain the same rule followed last year regarding how many foreigners a club can register.
"3+1 Foreign Players may be registered for all Domestic Club Competitions approved by All India Football Federation (AIFF) including I-League but only 3 can play in a match," the AIFF said.