I-League likely to start only in December: Sunando Dhar

Hero I-League Logo

NEW DELHI: The start of this season's Hero I-League is likely to be postponed by a month from the earlier planned November date as the clubs are finding it difficult to begin their pre-season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, league CEO Sunando Dhar said on Tuesday.

Hero I-League CEO Sunando Dhar

The I-League was expected to make a mid-November start in Kolkata, though it was not formally announced by the All India Football Federation (AIFF). 

"We had a meeting with I-League club owners a couple of days back. Majority of them said the situation in some parts of the country is still grim and so impossible to start pre-season. Coming of foreign players (to India) is also a problem," Dhar said.

"We are checking with the IFA (Indian Football Association) and (West Bengal) state government. The league may start in December. It will be decided very soon." The 11-team I-League will be played over three months.” Dhar said the AIFF is hoping to learn about life in a bio-secure bubble during the qualifying tournament beginning in Kolkata on Thursday.

He said that the youth leagues will not be held this season as it is impossible to establish bio-secure bubbles for so many teams across the country.

Dhar also said that the AIFF will not be able to hold Indian Women's League in its usual January-February slot (in 2021) but is still hoping to conduct it in May. 

The Futsal League is not slotted for May-June of 2021.