The All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) League Committee met virtually on May 1, 2023, to discuss the bidding criteria and expansion of the Hero I-League. The committee recommended bids be invited in a triple-tier system to provide opportunities to aspiring clubs and investors from various socio-economic backgrounds.
Tier 1 cities that have been identified as potential bidders include New Delhi, Bengaluru, Pune, Gurugram, Chennai, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Guwahati, and Noida, while Tier 2 cities include Ranchi, Itanagar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Phagwara, Coimbatore, Manjeri, Thiruvananthapuram, Bhopal, and Shillong.
Secretary General Dr Shaji Prabhakaran said,
“This is an important meeting, and the decisions made today will have significant impact, not only on the Hero I-League, but also for the overall development of football in the country. I would like to congratulate everyone on the successful completion of the Hero I-League, and the Hero Second Division League is also at its final stage now.”
He further stated,
“As we all know, the Roadmap of the AIFF plans to expand the league system to more teams, and provide more opportunities to invest in Indian Football. I’m sure these decisions will inspire the footballing community to come forward and participate in football and create a robust league that will be able to meet the expectations of all our fans and stakeholders.”
League Committee Chairperson Mr Hmar said,
“This Committee has been the most proactive in bringing positive changes. There are a lot of activities that are going on, and we are in the process of completing a fruitful season.”
Committee recommended inviting bids from Tier 3 towns and villages under panchayats. Minimum bid value for Tier 1 and 2 cities is Rs 5 crore and Rs 2.5 crore, respectively, while Tier 3 bidders should bid a minimum of Rs 1 crore.
Teams with the higher bid value will be given preference of selection, and no subsidy will be provided to teams for their respective first two seasons. Winning bids from Tier 1 and 2 cities will have relegation immunity for two seasons, while the same for Tier 3 cities will be for one season.
Bidders will be evaluated based on supporting documents. Committee recommends reducing foreign players’ quota to allow more Indian players in the Hero I-League. Clubs can register up to five foreigners and field a maximum of three foreign players in their playing XI.
The committee further suggested maintaining the status quo in U-22 Regulation in the 2023-24 season of the Hero I-League, which states that every participating club must ensure five of the total registered players in the squad are under the age of 22.