The team that finishes top of the table at the end of the 2019/20 Indian Super League season will get direct entry into the AFC Champions League 2021. The winners of the I-League, on the other hand, will get a direct entry into the 2021 AFC Cup.
The Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) Competition Committee had earlier recommended expanding the premier continental club competition in Asia by eight teams from the existing 32. The proposal was pending approval from the AFC Executive Committee.
A press release from the AIFF after its Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday stated that the AFC’s EC had, in fact, ratified the proposal which means that a team from the ISL will find a place in the Champions League. Sources say that it will be the team that finishes top of the league stage of the 2019/20 season that will gain a qualification and not the team that wins the final.
Till date, no Indian club has managed to make it to the group stage of the competition since it was rechristened as the AFC Champions League in the beginning of the 2002-03 season and the number of slots were reduced. Until last season, winners of the I-League qualified for the AFC Champions League preliminary stages. The 2019-20 season would have been the first time that an ISL team would have qualified for the preliminary stages of the Champions League, but now they will play straight away in the group stage.
Additionally, the committee announced that 108 clubs across 14 states have shown interest to play in the next edition of the Indian Women’s League.