Former All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel has revealed that the roadmap that was agreed upon for Indian football will be implemented and that I-League clubs will gain promotion to the Indian Super League as per plan.
"Of course, the roadmap has to be honoured, it’s all documented." Patel told the Times of India in an online interview on Sunday.
"With certain things, I have been very clear. Yes, I agree there was criticism, but we were also bound by certain documents. The sponsor has certain rights already established under the old MRA (master right agreement). We have to balance it."
The MRA is a legal document that was signed between the AIFF and IMG Reliance to agree that the Indian Super League was to be the most senior and prestigious football league in India, and Praful is proud of that achievement.
He said, "Integrating the ISL and the I-League was a major challenge. There was so much resistance from our partners. I told them, nothing doing. If Indian football has to go forward, there has to be integration of the two leagues.
"You cannot have a closed league forever. Yes, you had the right for a few years which we did not mind, but we cannot let Indian football be driven only by a closed league which would completely destroy Indian football for the future. It was a tough decision, but I can say with a sense of pride that I did push for it. Unless this issue gets resolved, it would mean no future for Indian football."
As per the roadmap, the winners of the I-League from next season onward, will gain promotion to the Indian Super League and from the 2024-25 season, there will be a proper promotion-relegation system in the Indian Super League.
Praful Patel is no longer the AIFF president and the Supreme Court has appointed a Committee of Administrators (CoA) to run Indian football until then.