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Upgrading to the ISL is a huge motivator for I-League clubs, says Shabir Ali

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The former believes that promoting I-League teams to the Indian Premier League is something that will greatly motivate I-League clubs. India Capt. Shabeer Ali.

The AIFF earlier announced the roadmap for Indian football, as approved by the AFC in October 2019, after consultations with ISL, I-League and FIFA clubs and their marketing partners. According to the roadmap, the winners of the 2022-23 and 2023-24 I-League seasons will get a chance to be promoted to the ISL without any participation fee, which is essential fulfillment of club licensing criteria.

Shabir Ali, who is also the Chairman of the FIFA Advisory Committee and member of the Executive Committee, felt that the promotion would be important to the Indian football ecosystem.

“It is very important for all clubs, players and officials that we promote from the I-League to the ISL. It gives clubs a lot of incentive to win the league,” said the former India striker. Also going to the first league, which is a great motivation.”

Shabir Ali himself got promoted as a coach with clubs like Salgaocar in the National Football League and Mohammedan Sporting in the I-League.

“I helped Salgaocar and Mohammedan get promoted and I can tell you it’s always a great moment for the club, when all things come together and the fruits of your hard work pay dividends,” he said. “It also means that you have to plan meticulously for the next season. There are a lot of changes in the squad, and as a coach you have to bring in new players to play at a higher level.”

The 66-year-old also stated that over time, FIFA and stakeholders need to look at the possibility of relegation.

“It’s never easy to go down, but it’s also an essential part of the game. Especially in the latter part of the season, teams in the bottom half don’t have a lot of motivation on the field. You throw touchdowns in the mix, and they’ll fight tooth and nail to avoid it,” he said. “It makes the league more competitive.

“Getting sponsors, setting new budgets to play at a higher level, signing new players, preparing for higher level operations are all integral to the game, and merchandising will put that into practice,” said Shabir Ali. “I was fortunate to experience these things. Although the resources might not have been there then as they are now, the excitement of upgrading, I feel, will be the same.”

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