The two I-League giants, Mohun Bagan who merged with ATK and East Bengal, recently joined the Indian Super League, which resulted in opening of two spots in I-League 2020-21. Sudeva FC from Delhi have made a corporate entry and the Champion of I-League 2nd Division will be promoted to the upcoming season making the league of 11 teams.
The 2020-21 Hero I-League will be held in Kolkata behind closed doors after AIFF confirmed it as the neutral venue for the league due to COVID-19 pandemic. Recently AIFF officials held a meeting with all club owners for the proposal of rules and regulations to be followed for the tournament, IFTWC can confirm.
The format of the league has been shortened due to the pandemic. Rather than the format where each team plays against each other twice, the tournament will be divided into two stages. In the first stage, 11 teams will play against each other once in round robin format. The second stage will be a tug of war as the top 6 teams will fight for the championship against each other while the bottom 5 teams will battle in a one leg format to avoid the relegation to I-League 2nd division. The AIFF developmental side Indian Arrows and the new entered entity Sudeva FC are imune to relegation.
The whole tournament is expected to complete in 95 days including quarantine period.
To create a bio bubble environment, the clubs are asked to conduct three COVID- 19 test for every player and officials before the arrival at the hotel. Access to bio bubble area will be granted to only those who have all three negative test reports. The teams will be quarantined for 4 days from the period starting from the date of arrival. Players will be only allowed for training after COVID-19 test on 4th day of their arrival.
The hotel facility will be provided by AIFF itself, with the meal and gym facility. All the medical tests for COVID-19 will solely be held by the organizing committee. Additionally, the club officials are strictly warned to avoid unnecessary travels and are instructed to stay away from large groups of people.
The appointment of a hygiene officer is compulsory for each team and the team doctor can be appointed as the hygiene officer if necessary. Medical equipments like pulse oximeter, thermometer, masks, gloves, sanitizing bottles, and face shield are essential to every player. Gym facilities and entertainment facilities to be brought by the club.
The gym facility will be available to the team as per the pre-assigned schedule. Gym equipment like yoga mats, rollers, Swiss balls, loop bands, kettle bells and Bosu balls are allowed. For entertainment purpose, gadgets like Play Station, X-Box, speakers, playing cards, portable projectors and board games are allowed.