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Thirteen clubs to vie for ISL promotion

August 12, 2023 00:36 IST

Photograph: Kind courtesy AIFF

The I-League 2023-24 will be organised with 13 participating clubs on a home-and-away double round-robin basis for a total of 156 matches in the season.

Subject to fulfilment of Club Licensing process, each club will play 24 matches, this was decided at the All India Football Federation's League Committee meeting in New Delhi on Friday.

The club finishing at the top of the table at the end of the league will be declared I-League 2023-24 champions and will be eligible for promotion to the Indian Super League 2024-25 provided they fulfil the Club Licensing criteria.

Last season's champions Punjab FC have already been promoted to the ISL.

The two relegated sides from the 2022-23 I-League season -- Mumbai Kenkre FC and Sudeva Delhi FC -- have been replaced by Delhi FC and Shillong Lajong FC, the top two sides from the 2022-23 Second Division League.

Inter Kashi and Namdhari FC have been admitted into the I-League as corporate entries.

“Earlier, we did not have a properly-tiered league structure, but that has changed," Committee chairperson Lalnghinglova Hmar said.

"Now, the ISL, the I-League, Second Division and Third Division are all connected with each other to create a strong league structure.”

The committee reiterated that clubs can register five foreigners in their squads, with a maximum of three allowed on the pitch at a time for the I-League 2023-24. There will no longer be any AFC player quota requirements.

For the newly-formed 3rd Division League, nine state FAs fulfilled the criteria for nominating teams -- Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.

Focus on referees development 

The AIFF Referees Committee also met over video conference, discussing the development of referees at the state level, which would ultimately help more and more quality referees come up at the national level.        The initial recruitment and training of referees are key, and with the growing number of high-level competitions resulting in more matches being played across many age groups and categories, having an adequate supply of top-quality referees is the need of the hour, the committee felt.

Reminding the Committee members of the need to work unitedly for the achievement of Vision 2047 targets, AIFF Secretary General Dr Shaji Prabhakaran said, "We need to develop the right vision so that refereeing becomes an interesting and encouraging career opportunity.”

"We need more high-quality referees, and also more women referees who can lead by example. There's a lot of work ahead, and we wish the referees committee all the best in achieving our goals and objectives.”

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