Dodsal FC set to secure I-league berth

Ambitious Mumbai-based club Dodsal FC are in advanced talks with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to gain direct entry into the I-League next season. Along with Dodsal, newly-formed club DSK Shivajians, from Pune, are also hoping to participate in the top flight directly. As a norm, teams have to first take part in the second division to attain qualification for the I-League. Dodsal have made no bones about their ambition to compete in the I-League and were hoping to take part in the second division league this season.

However, they have failed to register themselves for I-League II, which begins in February. The deadline to submit applications to participate in I-League II was December 21.

It is learnt that AIFF president Praful Patel recently met Dodsal owner Rajen Kilachand in Dubai to discuss the possibility of the team getting direct entry into next season's I-League. In return, Dodsal have proposed to construct a stadium, within Mumbai or city's outskirts by 2017.

"There is a possibility that Dodsal might get direct entry into the I-League. The AIFF has stated before that corporate franchisee teams would be given exception if they earmark a specific amount for infrastructural development. The teams, however, will have to furnish a bank guarantee," a source said.

Patel is believed to have held similar talks with owners of DSK Shivajians as well. They, however, will take part in the second division.

Structural change

If the two teams are given the permission to compete in the I-League, it is likely that the number of teams will be increased to 16. A decision regarding the structure of next season's I-League will be taken during AIFF's executive committee meeting on January 15. "The decision regarding the number of teams for next season can only be taken after we decide the fate of Air India and ONGC. Depending on that, we will take a call on the number of teams that will be relegated this year," a federation official said.

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