The AFC has granted the Indian Super League (ISL) official status ahead of the upcoming 2017-18 season, meaning India will have two officials leagues as the franchise-based league will run alongside the more established I-League.
The decision will also see the winners of the ISL receive an AFC Cup qualifying spot, while the I-League champions will continue to take India’s spot in AFC Champions League qualifying.
The I-League winners will also automatically earn a spot in the AFC Cup, the continent’s second-tier competition, should they fail to qualify for the Champions League.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) confirmed the news ahead of a meeting with I-League officials in the Indian capital on Thursday, According to ESPN. The decision has yet to be announced officially.
The decision by the AFC to allow two separate leagues to run concurrently appears to be a temporary solution until a merger between the two leagues can be finalised.
Indian football officials have been in discussion about a merger for many months, although no final decision or timescale for such a merger has been decided upon.
I-League team Bengaluru FC, losing finalists in last year’s AFC Cup, became the first team to switch between the leagues in July, leaving the I-League to joining the ISL.