Indian Super League

Along with the I-League, the Indian Super League (ISL) is one of two co-existing highest level in Indian football system. It is a professional football league. Along with their commercial partners Football Sports Development, the All India Football Federation organizes this league. It is officially called Hero Indian Super League due to sponsorship reason with Hero MotoCorp. Currently a total of 11 clubs comprises this league. Generally, each season of the tournament runs from November to March. Each club plays against all the other clubs in a round-robin style during the league stage of the competition. At the end of the league stage the top four clubs qualifies for the play-offs while a trophy named League Winners’ Shield is presented to the team with the most points and are declared the Premiers. Then the ISL Final is organised to determine the Champions who are presented with the ISL Trophy as the season culminates.

How did it start?

With the goal of increasing the exposure of football in the country and growing the sport in India the competition was founded on 21 October 2013. In October 2014, this league began with eight teams. This competition operated without official recognition from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) during its first three seasons. The Asian Football Confederation is the governing body for the sport in Asia. The structure of this competition was along the same lines as the Indian Premier League. As we all know Indian Premier League is country’s premier Twenty20 franchise based cricket competition which is extremely popular. The matches were held daily and each season lasted just 3 months, from October to December in the Indian Super League. However, the league earned recognition from the AFC, expanded its schedule to six months and expanded to ten teams prior to the 2017–18 season.

Winnings and competition

The club who wins the ISL Trophy are granted to participate in the AFC Cup while the club with the League Winners’ Shield are granted to participate in the AFC Champions League.

A total of two clubs have won the League Winners’ Shield and four clubs have won the ISL Trophy since the league’s inaugural season. ATK had won their third title in 2019–20 and is the only club with the most ISL Final wins. The League Winners Shield was awarded to the Premier team and it was  introduced in the same season when ATK won their third title. Goa are the inaugural winners of the league.

Competition format

Usually from October to March is the period when the Indian Super League season runs. The season consists of both the finals, which take place in March or the league stage, which lasts until late February. For a total of 20 matches each, a club plays the others twice, once at their home stadium and once at their opponents’ stadium as the league follows a double round-robin format. One point for a draw, three points for a win, and no points for a loss are received by the teams while playing the league. All the teams are ranked by total points, the top four ranked teams are progressed to the finals while the highest-ranked club at the end of the league stage is awarded with the ISL League Winners Shield.

Since the Indian Super League’s inaugural season their finals have remained unchanged. Concluding with the ISL Finals after starting with the semi-finals are the two rounds they consist of. With both sides playing the other in their home venues, the semi-finals are played in a two-legged format. The team moves on to the final who lead on aggregate moves at the conclusion of both matches. The away goal rule gets applied if the scores are tied on aggregate. With the winner being crowned as champions, the final is a one-off match that is held at a neutral ground

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