Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), the organizing body of the ISL, at a recent meeting with all participating clubs, said the football season would start in August and run until May next year, bringing it in line with football leagues around the world .
All ISL clubs play at least 28 competitive matches, 20 of them in the ISL and four each in the two cup competitions – Durand Cup and Super Cup.
Hyderabad head coach Manolo Marquez welcomed the recent development, saying a longer season is fantastic for the growth of Indian football.
“I think a longer season with three competitions like Durand Cup, ISL and Super Cup and in our case four – qualifying for AFC Cup – will be fantastic for Indian football. It’s impossible to develop well if you don’t train and if you don’t play. Six to seven months off-season can be very long. Better Indian players emerge after each season. They will appear more often, which will also increase the quality of the national team,” Marquez said in a statement.
ISL will transition to a weekend-oriented schedule this season, returning to a home-away format to engage more with fans. “The fans in the stadiums will be another amazing thing. We could see it in this season’s ISL finals and in the Santosh Trophy, for example. We know these factors will raise the level of Indian football. Things like that take time, but 100% India will grow in the next few years,” Marquez said.
India international star Keralite Sahal, who plays for Kerala Blasters, felt the longer playing time was a step in the right direction for the players.
“I think it will only help players improve as professional footballers. That’s what a player needs – more playing time, more matches and keeping the rhythm of the game for a long time. It also shortens the pause which was very long in India. The gap between seasons was too long, so I think this will really help the players to be focused and fit,” said the midfielder.
“If they get more playing time and more games, the players will be fit enough. When the breaks are shorter the players can really focus on football because that’s what we do, that’s our livelihood, so we can focus more on that. I really believe it will help me as a player to focus more on football and grow as a professional footballer,” concluded Sahal.
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