The Hero I-League will take place in the same bio-safe bubble environment as last year with strict COVID-19 protocols. All players along with referees, officials, and volunteers will be kept in bio-secure bubbles at four different hotels in Kolkata. League CEO Sunando Dhar said that the AIFF will follow the same protocol as last season.
“Since there are more teams this time, we have booked more hotels in the form of bio-bubbles. It is not easy for players and officials to stay in a hotel for three and a half months. I hope we will get the same kind of support from the teams as we did last year.”
When asked how many foreign players would be admitted to each team in view of the new AFC rule, he said: “We allow each team to register six foreign players, but on match day, 3+1 rules three players of nationality and one of the AFC member association.
According to the format of the football tournament, all teams will play each other once in a round-robin format before the league is split into two groups in the second leg of the tournament. The first seven teams will make up Group A, and the last six will make up Group B. Once the divisions are formed after the end of Phase I, the teams from each group will play against each other in a round-robin format with a single phase. While Group A teams will play to determine the champion, Group B teams will battle for relegation.
Kushal Das also said that the demotion process will be restored this season. “We will return to the system in which he is dropped from I-League this season.” He also said that if the COVID-19 situation allows it, next year instead of I-League qualifiers, a full league will be played in the second division at home and away.
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