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A brief history of 20 years of I-League.

37 clubs played in i-League’s 20-year journey; from 11 states (Indian Arrows/ Pailan Arrows are taken as “non-state” actor). Goa, Maharashtra and Kerala lead the table with 6 teams each. In a rather huge difference, 6 teams from Goa contributed to a total of 72 appearances; while the 6 teams from Kerala contributed to only 12 appearances. This shows that the teams from Goa participated and did reasonably well; while teams from Kerala came in and went out – and were not able to make a mark consistently.

Here is the full table:

Goa (6 teams; 72 appearances) – Dempo, Churchill, Salgaocar, Vasco, Fransa, Sporting Club De Goa
Maharashtra (6 teams; 42 appearances) – Air India, Bharat FC, DSK Shivajians, Mahindra, Mumbai FC, Pune FC
Kerala (6 teams; 12 appearances) – Chirag United Kerala, Viva Kerala, SBT, Kochin FC, Kerala Police [did not qualify to main competition in 1st league], FC Kochin
Bengal (5 teams; 57 appearances) – EB, MB, United, Mohammedan, Tollygunj
Punjab (3 teams; 17 appearances) – BSF, JCT, Punjab Police
Karnataka (3 teams; 13 appearances) – Bengaluru, HAL, ITI
Meghalaya (3 teams; 8 appearances) – Lajong, Royal Wahingdoh, Rangdajied
Tamil Nadu (1 team; 5 appearances) – Indian Bank
Delhi (1 team; 2 appearances) - ONGC
Mizoram (1 team; 1 appearance) – Aizawl FC
Sikkim (1 team; 1 appearance) – United Sikkim

Nearly 75% of appearance can be ticked from top 3 appearing states: Goa, Bengal and Maharashtra – and not surprisingly, these are three states that marked participation every year. AIFF’s new-found-passion is to draft “corporate teams”, who pays money and gets into top tier. But if you see the above list, Indian football has always had a large number of teams backed by corporates. Saving aside the new “corporate teams”, as many as 13 other teams had similar attributes.
The league has been quite open. There have been ups and downs – teams dominated and demised. Some, unfortunately, were forced out – for no fault of their own. However, on an average, i-league is seen to be taking place in 6 states. In contrast, ISL covers 7 states.


Highest number of teams in a single year – 14 (2009-10 to 2012-13; 4 years)
Lowest number of teams in a single year – 9 (2015-16) [Championship round of 1st NFL had 8 teams; though qualification round was played with 12 teams]

Immediately prior to advent of ISL; i-league had 13-14 teams. Since ISL, i-League shrunk to 11 teams in 2014-15; and 9 teams in 2015-16. The 9 teams in 2015-16 is the least number of teams in its 20 years’ history. In as already tough market, a curtailed season with limited exposure is hampering all teams. Importantly, several players are getting lesser on-field play time.

Highest number of teams from a single state – 6 (from Goa in 2004-05)
Highest number of state representation in a single year – 7 (1998-99 & 2010-11) | Lowest number of state representation in a single year - 4 (2004-05 and 2008-09)
Only team to feature in all i-league (main competition): East Bengal
Most appearances: East Bengal (428 games); followed by Mohun Bagan (414 games)
Most wins: East Bengal (211); followed by Mohun Bagan (177 games)
Most goals scored: East Bengal (631); followed by Churchill Brothers (629)
8 most dominant teams in terms of win and appearance in last 20 year history: [East Bengal, Mohun Bagan], Churchill Brothers (barred), [Dempo, Salgaocar], [JCT, Mahindra United (both quit)] and Sporting Club De Goa. Important to note the decimation.

Except for the Kolkata Two – every other team is marginalized – either by the game of regulation or by strangling.

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Club News Posted on September 28, 2018

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