Asian Football Confederation (AFC) general secretary Dato’ Windsor made it clear on Wednesday that the simultaneous running of the Indian Super League (ISL) and I-League this season was just a stop-gap arrangement and the two will be merged together.
The merger will definitely give a big boost to Mohun Bagan and East Bengal’s hopes to play in the ISL. “It’s not a question of what we are favouring or not. It’s in the AFC constitution that one country should have one league. We just gave provision (for two leagues) for a transition period. That’s all,” Windsor told reporters at the Salt Lake Stadium on the sidelines of the England-Brazil FIFA Under-17 World Cup semifinal game in Kolkata. “There will be one league for sure. For the time being, because of the situation we had to do it (have two leagues this season).” added the AFC secretary. Windsor further spoke highly of Mohun Bagan and East Bengal’s contribution to keep India’s football alive. “We cannot forget their legacies. We are very conscious of their contribution to Indian football. If today football is alive in India, it’s because of these clubs,” Windsor pointed out.
AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das, who accompanied the top AFC official, said that there will be only one league from next season but clubs like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal will have to pay the participation fees. “There will be one league, we will make all the efforts to have one league from next season. They have to make a choice. They (Mohun Bagan and East Bengal) have to pay up participation fees. It can’t be compromised,” Das said. He added that franchise fees and participation fees are two different things and the participation fees amount to ₹15 crores.
One can now hope that the conflict regarding the two league merger will soon be resolved and a permanent solution will be made on the issue with this decision from the AFC. The decision should help ISL as addition of clubs like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal will bring in a new wave of followers boosting the stature of the league.