The Hero I-League 2021-22 season will resume on March 3 in Kolkata after a brief pause to ensure the safety of all the players and officials involved in the league, the All India Football Federation said on Tuesday.
On January 3, the I-League was suspended by the AIFF after a fresh COVID-19 outbreak hit the participating teams inside the bio-bubble here.
The league will be played from within the safety of a bio-bubble, which will begin on February 20, with the players and officials needing to travel with three negative RT-PCR tests before joining the bubble. Additionally, every players will also be required to do a 12 lead ECG before arrival.
Once inside the bio-bubble, each individual needs to serve 7 days in quarantine, with three more tests being done. On receiving three negative RT-PCR tests in quarantine, the players and officials will be free to operate from within the bubble and attend training sessions, meals, team meetings, and matches.
Hero @ILeagueOfficial 2021-22 to resume on March 3 🗓
— Hero I-League (@ILeagueOfficial) February 1, 2022
“We had stopped the league initially as we wanted to ensure the safety of the players and officials involved, and did not want COVID-19 to spread,” said AIFF Leagues CEO Sunando Dhar.
“Now, after getting the clearance from the relevant authorities and a go-ahead from the doctor, we feel that with the positivity rates going down, this is the best time to restart the season,” he added.
“I have been in touch with all the clubs, and they have all expressed their excitement, and are looking forward to the restart,” he concluded.
There will be no change in format for the league, with the 13 teams to play against each other once in a round-robin format, in the first round. Once the first round is over, the teams will be divided into two groups – Group A will consist of the top seven teams that will fight for the championship title, while Group B will consist of the bottom six teams that will be embroiled in a relegation battle. Each club will play their opponents in their respective groups once in a round-robin format, in the second round.
The matches will be played across three venues – Kalyani Municipal Stadium, Naihati Stadium, and the Mohun Bagan Ground.