The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) published an article earlier today, stating some big changes which it has implemented to its club and international competitions. Most notably, the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup will shift from Spring to Autumn to an Autumn to Spring season. This is set to commence from the 2023-24 season.
This poses a question regarding the participation of the ISL and I-League clubs for the 2023-24 season of the AFC club competitions. Clubs who qualify this season may have to wait for over 15 months for the group stage/qualifiers to commence in 2023, which is never ideal for a team.
“The decision, which was taken following a comprehensive feasibility study and a close and in-depth consultation and feedback exercise with the AFC’s MAs, will enable Asia’s top clubs to benefit from more synchronized transfer windows, improved opportunities to sign quality players and coaches with respect to worldwide leagues’ seasons, and a more even distribution of club matches annually to maintain a balance with National Team matches.”, said AFC.
However, the change in the calendar means that there is a chance that clubs might miss out on any AFC continental competition in the upcoming season. The club officials, FSDL, AIFF, and AFC are set to hold a meeting to discuss a future plan to work out a solution to tackle the changes in the smoothest way possible.
“As things stand, the league winners and shield winners of this season will most probably play in the AFC Competitions as the AIFF had already made the commitments with the clubs, and the clubs have made investments according to that.”, said a source closely affiliated with AIFF.
“The League committee, all the clubs, and AFC representatives will have a meeting soon to decide how to deal with the situation as AFC has changed the timing of its competitions.”, the source further stated.
Mumbai City FC are set to play the AFC Champions League in April this year. In the AFC Cup, Gokulam Kerala had earned a spot in the group stages and will be joined by ATK Mohun Bagan if they make it through the qualifiers.
The race for the league shield in 2021/22 is heating up with Hyderabad FC and Jamshedpur FC leading the lot, followed by ATK Mohun Bagan, Kerala Blasters, and Mumbai City FC. Not being able to play the prestigious competitions will be a massive blow for the teams as they have fought hard for silverware.
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