The AIFF President Mr Kalyan Chaubey, Secretary General Dr Shaji Prabhakaran, and the other senior officials of the Federation met with representatives from the Hero I-League and Hero Indian Women's League clubs at the Football House in New Delhi, on Thursday to discuss about the Indian Football leagues. The first preference was how to make the league more competitive and to increase the value of the clubs.
There were some big names present at the meeting. Executive Committee members Mr. Avijit Paul, Ms. Valanka Alemao (also the Chairperson of the Women's Football Committee), Mr. Lalnghinglova Hmar (also the Chairman of the League Committee), Mr. Vijay Bali, and Grassroots Committee Chairperson Mr Mulrajsinh Chudasama, and League Committee member Mr Satyanarayan were amongst the few more persons to attend the meeting.
Sreenidi Deccan FC, Gokulam Kerala FC, Churchill Brothers FC Goa, Mohammedan Sporting Club, and Aizawl FC were present at the Football House were amongst the Hero I-League clubs whose representatives and officials joined the meeting. NEROCA FC, TRAU FC, Real Kashmir FC, Rajasthan United FC, Delhi FC, and Shillong Lajong FC attended the meeting virtually.
Out of the Hero IWL clubs, Gokulam Kerala FC, Kickstart FC, HOPS FC, Sethu FC, and Odisha FC were present at the Football House. East Bengal FC, and Sports Odisha attended the meeting virtually.
"This is a new dawn, and the AIFF management is looking to take the leagues in the country to the next level. At times when we sit across the table, we tend to think only of what can benefit us, but we need to put all such differences aside and think of solutions that will benefit all parties involved here. I am sure all of you are looking for good players, quality administrators, quality media engagement, and so on. I am glad to tell all of you that this time we aim to do better for the Hero I-League and the Hero IWL," AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey said.
Secretary General Dr. Prabhakaran said, "We are working on creating the right impact and value for the Hero I-League and Hero IWL. It is our responsibility to ensure that the league is sustainable for the clubs, and to make it more competitive."
The AIFF discussed the possibility of having the Hero I-League in different formats. A lengthy discussion was also held on the pros and cons of the formats. The federation will take the decision on this matter at a later date. It was one of the most important topics of this discussion.
The Hero I-League clubs will have to improve their pitch conditions and provide compulsory floodlights for their matches. A range of awards were also announced for the Hero I-League – Best Pitch, Best Match Organisation, and Best Media Activities. The winning prize for each category is Rs 2.5 lakh, while that of the runners-up is Rs 1.5 lakh.
Gokulam Kerala FC (EMS Corporation Stadium, Kozhikode), Kickstart FC (Bangalore Football Stadium, Bengaluru), Sethu FC (Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai), Sports Odisha (Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar), Odisha FC (Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar), HOPS FC (Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi) and East Bengal FC (East Bengal Ground, Kolkata).
AIFF officials also announced that the 2023-24 women's football league season will consist of two tiers. The Hero IWL with eight teams playing on a home-and-away basis and a second division, which will comprise the remaining eight teams from the 2022-23 Hero IWL season and the state league winners. The top two teams of the second division will get the promotion to the 2024-25 Hero IWL.