The upcoming Super Cup, a football knockout competition involving both I-League and Indian Super League (ISL) teams, is likely to have six foreigners registered in each 25-member squad and five taking the field.
There was a lot of talk about the number of foreign players that should be allowed to contest in the competition keeping in mind that ISL clubs can register eight foreigners with at least five allowed on the pitch while the I-League teams can register six foreign players and allow five on the field of play at a given time.
But according to sources close to the development, after series of deliberations between members of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) League committee members and promoters of ISL, Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), a consensus has been drawn on making it a level playing field and cutting down on the foreigners’ quota.
The FSDL, the source said, are still not fully convinced. But according to mails exchanges between the sparring factions, majority of the League Committee members have agreed on six foreigners in the Super Cup.
“The ISL authorities are still keen on registering eight foreign players,” the source told IANS.
“The League Committee members and FSDL officials were at loggerheads regarding this but it seems the majority verdict will prevail,” he added.
Many I-League clubs including contenders Minerva Punjab FC, Neroca FC, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan opposed the move saying it would benefit the ISL clubs and for a knockout tournament they cannot sign two more foreign players.
Even former Chelsea manager Avram Grant, coaching NorthEast United FC in the ISL, echoed the I-League clubs saying,A “it’s not fair for the other league (I-League) because they have only six foreigners (as compared to eight in the ISL)”.
The Super Cup will be a knockout competition with 16 teams. The top six teams of the I-League and the ISL will get direct entry into the pre-quarterfinals, while the bottom-placed teams from both the leagues will competing in playoffs to fill the remaining four spots.
The qualifiers for the inaugural edition will be played between March 12 and March 31 while the final round will be held between March 31 to April 22. The venue will be Cuttack and Bhubaneshwar.