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Indian Football Leagues Revamps for the 2023/24 season

AIFF announces direct entry bidders for I-League, the introduction of third-division and IWL revamps for the 2023/24 season.

Last updated: 13.06.2023
Indian Football Leagues Revamps for the 2023-24 season

The All India Football Federation or the AIFF in the League Committee meeting on Tuesday, 13th June 2023 put forward a series of plans for the 2023/24 league season. The decisions made will reshuffle the existing formats of the divisions in both men’s and women’s football in India. The Committee was chaired by Mr Lalnghinglova Hmar via video conferencing in the presence of Secretary General Dr Shaji Prabhakaran and other members.

Five proposals of direct entry bids for the I-League have been received by AIFF. More new teams in the country’s second division will increase the competition now that promotion to Indian Super League has started. The Indian Women’s League will also have a shake-up with eight teams to participate in the 2023/24 season. There will be a second division for women’s football in the country while the men’s will have a third division too. The age group leagues will have a new format as well. The steps are taken in alignment with Vision 2047.

AIFF Revamps for the 2023/24 League season


I-league Entries           

Five bidders have expressed their interest in direct entry into the I-League, coming from five cities in India. YMS Finance Pvt Ltd (Kolkata), Namdhari Seeds Pvt Ltd (Punjab), Nimida United Sports Development Pvt Ltd (Bengaluru), Concatenate Advest Advisory Pvt Ltd (Delhi) and Bunkerhill Pvt Ltd (Gurugram) have made the proposals for direct entrants. Nimida United Sports already owns I-League 2 side FC Bengaluru United while Bunkerhill owns a 50-per cent share at Mohammedan Sporting in I-League as investors.     

Tier 1 Bids came from Cities like Delhi, Gurugram and Bengaluru, Tier 2 Bids from Varanasi and Tier 3 from Sri Bhaini Sahib Village. The bids will be accessed and reviewed by financial experts to decide on which team(s) will participate in the Hero I-league 2023-24 season. The tender was floated by AIFF for inviting bids only last month to increase the number of teams in the I-League. The last date for bid submission was June 12, 2023.

Shaji Prabhakaran stated that the growth in the value of the I-League will make it easier for AIFF to get broadcasters and motivate the clubs to participate. They are spending ₹15-18 crore for the competition and want to have the right format for it. Aims are being made to make it easier for the clubs to run themselves by reducing costs and spending less on things other than football. Hence, it will increase the number of clubs.         

Shillong Lajong will be returning to I-League after a gap of four years securing promotion from I-League 2 in the past season. Delhi FC are the second side joining them in the 2023-24 season having finished runners-up ahead of Ambernath United and FC Bengaluru United just by a point with United Sports finishing bottom of the final round in the competition. They will replace Mumbai Kenkre and Sudeva Delhi who got relegated from the I-League. 

Second and Third Division

The Men’s second division league in the 2023-24 season will consist of eight teams. Three teams who failed to secure promotion to the I-League will have another chance in the new season in the competition along with two relegated sides from I-League and three teams who qualified from the third division.    

A new third division is set to be introduced which will be the fourth tier in the men’s league. It will serve as a platform for state champions and nominated teams by the state. No Hero ISL reserve team will be a part of the 2nd Division League or even the 3rd Division League in the 2023-24 season. The last date for nomination of teams for the 3rd Division is 30th July 2023.  

New IWL format

While the I-League is expected to increase with the number of participating clubs, the teams for the 2023/24 Indian Women’s League season will get reduced to eight. The participating clubs are the top four sides from each group in the past campaign. IWL winners for the third consecutive time, Gokulam Kerala FC will take part along with Sports Odisha, East Bengal, HOPS, Sethu Madurai, Kickstart FC Karnataka, Odisha FC and Eastern Sporting Union. Earlier, AIFF declared the new season of the Women’s top division will be played in a home-and-away format.     

A new second division will be launched in women’s football and the state champions will get to compete in it. The top two teams from the 2nd Division will qualify for the IWL 2024-25 while the two teams from the first division in the 2023-24 season, for the first time, will be relegated to the second tier. The nomination date for the 2nd Division will be confirmed by the committee later.

The Secretary-General said that there will be a better and improved structure for IWL from next season. The AIFF was criticized on a range of issues for their handling of the top-division women’s football league in the last campaign from the match timings, accommodation and treatment of the athletes. Prabhakaran has also claimed that AIFF will announce ‘something big and exceptional’ by July this year which can change women's football in the country.       

Age-group Format  

The committee also approved a new format for the U-13 & U-15. The U-13 league will be played in a 7v7 format while the U-15 league will be played as 9v9. States will need to finish the state leagues by October for the national leagues which will begin by November.

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