India's 2017-18 football calendar remains unclear

There was a first round of meeting on May 7 where Patel had said that the I-League will remain the "official" league of the country but later changed from his stance, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan officials had claimed. Previously, every ISL franchise had a marquee player, generally a big name in the world of football.

The nod is towards a unified league where old and new I-League clubs as well as ISL franchises get to play.

The I-League, expected to be significantly weakened by this loss of talent, may take a back seat to the revamped ISL.

For the long-term fix, a commission would be instituted which will try and prepare a roadmap by the end of the year as the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) had asked for in a stakeholders' meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

Reportedly, the AFC was not keen on recognising the ISL as the country's premier domestic league as it is "against a privately-managed tournament undermining the top division league".

An AFC release simply stated that the onus of deciding the format of Indian football in the short term would be with the All India Football Federation (AIFF), while the Football Players Association of India (FPAI), who were represented at the meeting by president and former India global Renedy Singh, issued a statement indicating that the stakeholders will meet again inside the next 10 days to decide that short-term road-map. I think the Super Cup could become the most prestigious event in the Indian calendar.

Speaking to the-afc.com, Windsor said: "There was a desire by people, who are extremely passionate about the game, to marry the strengths of both the traditional and the new, which helped in delivering the objectives of the meeting in which the AFC listened to the key stakeholders".

Chaired by AFC general secretary Dato' Windsor John, the meeting included representatives of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), the Sports Ministry, the I-League and ISL clubs as well as from the world governing body, FIFA, the players' representatives and the AFC.

It has been learnt from the AIFF executive committee meeting in Mumbai on Thursday that Patel want to run both the leagues for the 2017-18 season as a solution to the prevailing deadlock in Mohun Bagan and East Bengal's induction into ISL and giving it the official top-tier status.

The only positive came out of the meeting is that AFC General Secretary Dato Windsor agreeing with the fact that the 100 years legacy of two Kolkata giants, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan could not be thrown aside as well as I-League victor Aizwal FC's claim if the merger happens in the future.

"Our director (Dutta) made a presentation elaborating the history and legacy of our club and explained the performance of the national team, stressing on the importance of having one league", the release stated.

  • Julie Sanders