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I-League clubs have to find a method to sustain themselves – AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das

Das has also backed the roadmap for Indian football that will witness relegation and promotion between all leagues within the next five years

Te All India Football Federation (AIFF) General Secretary Kushal Das believes that the new clubs joining the I-League should have a sustainable model. 

In the past, numerous clubs have shut down or pulled out from the I-League but clubs like Chennai City FC have invested into the league and have performed well. Now, the likes of Sudeva Delhi and Sreenidhi are set to make their mark in the I-League from 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons respectively.

“I think this is a scenario (clubs shutting down) is not just in India but across Asia. Clubs have to find a method to sustain themselves. We are always there to support them in terms of technical support and advice, but ultimately the clubs will have to sustain themselves.

“I believe that some of the newer clubs (Sudeva and Sreenidhi) that are coming in, have a fairly good sustainable model. They understand that, while it’s important to get into the top league, they need to come in a way they can sustain themselves,” he stated.

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With Mohun Bagan and East Bengal deciding to join the Indian Super League (ISL), Das backed the roadmap for Indian football that would allow for an I-League club to be promoted to the top tier on sporting merit by the 2023-24 season before the 2025-26 season will also be open to clubs getting relegated from the ISL.

“I think we have already given a very clear roadmap so as to how the I-League, ISL and the whole Indian structure fits in the whole scenario and everyone has accepted it.

“We have Mohammedan Sporting in Kolkata. We have a new team in Sudeva and going forward, we will have more teams from places like Vizag (Sreenidhi), etc. So I don’t think that the I-League in any way will lose its relevance. We have a roadmap where the I-League clubs, in a few years from now (2023-24), will be playing in the ISL on sporting merit and from 2025-26 there will be a promotion and relegation in all the leagues. All the leagues will have relevance there.”

And while the 2020-21 I-League is set to kick off on Saturday, Das mentioned that even if the government regulations allow for 50 percent attendance for outdoor sports no risk can be taken while hoping for youth and other tournaments to be resumed from next season.

“Whatever the government regulations, we feel that the health of players and officials is of paramount importance. So we are not in a position to take any risk. So even if the government does allow us to have some crowd, we can consider it going forward,” he said.

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