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The All India Football Federation’s (AIFF)League Committee met over video conferencing on Friday and decided on I-League 2023-24 format.

The meeting was chaired by Lalnghinglova Hmar and was attended by Deputy Chairperson Santanu Pujari and Committee Members Amit Chaudhuri, Dr Kiran Chowgule, Arif Ali, Caitanno Jose Fernandes, KI Nizamuddin, Dr Reginold Varghese, and Anirban Dutta.

AIFF Secretary General Dr Shaji Prabhakaran and Deputy Secretary General Satyanarayan were present at the meeting, the AIFF sources said.

Addressing the meeting, Dr Prabhakaran said, “It’s a very important day as a number of decisions, which would shape our league structure, are being taken today. More and more clubs are coming

up to participate in not just the I-League, but the third division as well.

“We are all committed to arriving at the best decisions to make the league structure competitive. That would encourage clubs to aspire to rise from the district level to the national level, and help in the overall improvement of Indian football,” Dr Prabhakaran added.

The I-League 2023-24 will be organised with 13 participating clubs (subject to fulfilment of Club Licensing process) on a home-and-away double round-robin basis for a total of 156 matches in the season. Each club will play 24 matches. The club finishing at the top of the table at the end of the league will be declared I-League 2023-24 champions and will be eligible for promotion to the Indian Super League 2024-25 provided they fulfil the Club Licensing criteria.

Last season’s champions Punjab FC have already been promoted to the ISL. The two relegated sides from the 2022-23 I-League season – Mumbai Kenkre FC and Sudeva Delhi FC – have been replaced by Delhi FC and Shillong Lajong FC, the top two sides from the 2022-23 Second Division League. Inter Kashi and Namdhari FC have been admitted into the I-League as corporate entries.

Committee chairperson Hmar said, “Earlier, we did not have a properly-tiered league structure, but that has changed. Now, the ISL, the I-League, Second Division and Third Division are all connected with each other to create a strong league structure.”

The committee reiterated that clubs can register five foreigners in their squads, with a maximum of three allowed on the pitch at a time for the I-League 2023-24. There will no longer be any AFC player quota requirements.

For the newly-formed 3rd Division League, nine state FAs fulfilled the criteria for nominating teams – Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.

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