The much talked about the format for the second division I League has been finally decided. The AIFF committee met in Delhi earlier today to finalize the format, which will include two phases; a preliminary round and the final round.
It was decided that 18 teams will be participating in this season’s second division, including 7 reserve teams from the I League. ATK, Mumbai City FC, NEUFC will be the 3 teams not to field their reserves. The 18 teams will be divided into 3 groups of 6 teams each, from which the 3 group winners and the best second placed team will qualify for the final round. In case the group winners or the best second-placed team is a reserve team of any ISL franchise, then the slot will be passed on to the next non ISL team. The preliminary round will be played on a home and away basis, while the final round will be held at a centralized venue.
The Preliminary round will kick-off on March 16 will continue until May 15. Teams will be allowed to field 3 foreign players, including one Asian player
Overall, the tournament structure does not look to be a stable one and looks like it is being organized just for the sake of it. The second division I League has always had its future uncertain since the last few years. But the duration is a concern since it lasts for just 2 months. With 10 matches to be played in the preliminary stages, tiredness can take a toll on the players. Instead of this, it could have been made a longer league at fixed venues which could have cut costs as well.
Group A: Real Kashmir FC, LoneStar Kashmir FC, Delhi Dynamos FC (reserves), Hindustan FC, Delhi United FC, FC Pune City (reserves)
Group B: Madhya Bharat SC, FC Goa (reserves), Kerala Blasters (reserves), Ozone Football Academy, Fateh Hyderabad AFC, FC Kerala
Group C: TRAU FC, Langsning FC, Mohammedan Sporting Club, Bengaluru FC (reserves), Jamshedpur FC (reserves), Chennaiyin FC (reserves)