Indian skipper Sunil Chhetri has expressed his surprise about the talks of the merger between the ISL and the I-League, insisting that the plan is still at a nascent stage. Chettri is surprised that this information was leaked to the media, despite the AIFF asking them to not talk about it.
"When I attended that meeting, we were told not to talk about it, because the idea of merging the I-League and the ISL was supposed to be just a first draft. But the very next day, all the newspapers had reported on the matter. A first draft is something which has been proposed, and which needs further discussion. I want to hold my thoughts on the matter for now," Chhetri said, in an event held to celebrate BFC's I-League and the AFC Cup success, at the PUMA Social Club here on Friday, reported the Hindu.
In a meeting between the AIFF and their marketing partners IMG-Reliance earlier this month, the governing body presented the new roadmap declaring ISL as the top league in the country, followed by League 1(the I-League), and League 2, starting from November next year.
When Chettri was asked what else was discussed in the meeting, he said, "It was an informal meeting where a lot of ideas were proposed. It was good to see all the stakeholders come together and speak their mind. All the big names of Indian football were present. As for me, I stressed on the need to establish a strong grassroots structure in the country."
After lifting the I-League crown, Bengaluru FC have also reached the quarterfinal of the AFC Cup, after defeating Kitchee SC in the round-of-16 clash. However, with the quarterfinals scheduled to take place in September, Bengaluru run the risk of losing a lot of key players to the ISL franchises. Chhetri is hoping that Bengaluru will be able to negotiate an agreement with the players and the ISL franchises in time for their AFC Cup fixture.
"I don't know; there's no clarity yet. I hope that both parties can resolve the issue, because when BFC plays in the AFC Cup, it feels like we are representing the country," the 31-year-old said.