This year’s I-League season will kick off on December 26 in Kolkata with a match between TRAU FC of Manipur and All India Football Federation’s developmental side Indian Arrows.
The matches will be played across three venues — Mohun Bagan Ground, Kalyani Stadium and Naihati Stadium.
With three new entrants — Sreenidi Deccan FC of Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan United FC and Kenkre FC of Kolhapur — this season, the number of teams has increased to 13. All of them, along with the referees, officials and volunteers, will be housed inside bio-secured bubbles in four different hotels across Kolkata.
“The AIFF has been a pioneer in Indian sporting ecosystem in hosting sporting events from inside bio-bubbles, and we are happy to continue providing a safe heaven for players, referees, and everyone else involved in running the league,” said AIFF Leagues CEO Sunando Dhar in a release.
“We need to thank all our partners, because the logistical and financial effort to house 13 teams in a bio-bubble for an entire season would not have been possible without their help.” Rajasthan United FC is making its I-League debut after winning the I-League the Qualifiers, while Kenkre FC, which finished second, was named as a replacement for Chennai City FC.
As per the tournament format, all the teams will play against each other once in a round-robin format in Phase 1, before being split into two groups in Phase 2 of the league. The top seven teams will make up Group A and the bottom six will make up Group B.
Once the divisions are made after the end of Phase I, the teams of each group will play against each another in a single leg round-robin format. While the teams in Group A will play to determine the champions, those in Group B will be in a relegation battle.