Indian Super League (ISL), the revolution that changed the face of Indian football, undergone a lot of changes since its inception. It took just 5 years for the ISL brand to become the top division of the country, from being a football competition that lasts for just 3 months. We have seen a lot of changes in these years, including reduction of foreigners players, AFC (Asian Football Confederation) approval etc.
Even though the Indian football is on hold due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there were no shortage of news regarding ISL and its clubs. Some of these even created many doubts among the fans regarding what they can expect from the league next season. Without causing further delay, let’s see what changes we can expect from ISL season 7.
An Indian Head-Coach in the ISL
ISL committee has made some strict guidelines that needed to be followed by the clubs, when they appoint their head coaches. These guidelines prevented many qualified Indian coaches from taking charge of an ISL club- a decision which attracted a lot of criticism to ISL. Even the clubs faced some difficulties due to these rules, especially when they decided to sack their foreign coaches. The rules forced Clubs to look for another coaches who meet the ISL guidelines even though they have a good Indian coach at their disposal.
Things have changed though over the past few weeks. The league have re-framed the provision, allowing Indian coaches to head the ISL teams, provided they have a Pro Coaching Licence. Currently India has 16 pro licence holder, Clifford Miranda, being the latest addition to the list. The change of rule will motivate a lot of other Indian coaches to attain a pro licence, which will be beneficial for Indian football in future.
Introduction of the Mandatory Asian Quota
Even though ISL got the AFC approval in 2017, they choose to stay away from the AFC rule of foreign squad that demands one player from other AFC nations in the squad. With as many as three ISL clubs set to participate in the continental competitions of next season, ISL organisers have made Asian quota mandatory for all the clubs. This will help the clubs who have qualified for Asian competitions, to have a smooth transition from ISL to AFC games.
As per the reports, clubs can a have a minimum of six and a maximum of seven foreign players in the squad, out of which one should be from other AFC nations. Last season ISL had a total of 3 foreigners from AFC nations.
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Minimum of 27 Matches
ISL will open a new page in their history book when FC Goa plays their first game in AFC Champions League (Asia’s equivalent of UEFA Champions League) next season. AFC has many criteria for the clubs, participating in the AFC Champions League. Some of these includes, that the qualified clubs has to play a minimum of 27 matches in top division, as well as a minimum of 8 month long league duration etc.
With ISL being the top division of the country and having an allotment of a direct slot in AFC Champions League group stage; ISL is bound to increase the number of the fixtures.
As per the reports, ISL is all set to revamp their format. Along with the normal 18 matches, clubs played in round robin format, ISL is planning to add another nine games with a single match against each opponents in the league. This guaranteed a minimum of 27 matches for the players. The change can be a boon to Indian football as many players including Sunil Chhetri have come forward to the need of a longer league since long.
Increased Squad Size of 35 players
The Seventh season of ISL allows clubs to register a squad size of 35 members including the foreign players. This is a stark difference from the last season where the teams were allowed to register only up to 25 players. The new squad strength requirement means that the teams will have a minimum of 28 Indian players. With the increase in number of matches, coaches will have sufficient players for squad rotation.
ISL made reserve teams mandatory for the clubs since the last season. Increase in squad size will help the clubs to utilize their reserve teams more effectively as we may see a lot of player promotion in this upcoming season.
Addition of New Teams
Since the news about ATK-MB merger broke out, the minds of many Indian football fans were clouded with one question-what will be the fate of East Bengal, will they join ISL or not? It is difficult for an Indian football fan to think about a national league without Kolkata derby.
As per the reports coming out of Kolkata, East Bengal is trying everything in their hands to ensure their participation in top division. East Bengal is aggressively active in the transfer window as there has not been a single day passing without an East Bengal transfer news. This gives a strong vibe that East Bengal’s target is none other than ISL. Read more on that here
These are the some of the changes we can expect from next season. Comment your opinion on this in our comment section.