|Organising body||All India Football Federation (AIFF)|
|Founded||1996National Football League) (as |
2007 (as I-League)
|Number of teams||13|
|Level on pyramid||1 (currently) |
2 (from 2022–23)
|Promotion to||Indian Super League (from 2022)|
|Relegation to||I-League 2nd Division|
|Domestic cup(s)||Durand Cup |
|International cup(s)||AFC Cup|
|Current champions||Gokulam Kerala (1st title)|
|Most championships||Dempo (3 titles)|
|Top goalscorer||Ranti Martins (214 goals)|
|TV partners||1Sports (including Facebook live streaming)|
|Current: 2021–22 I-League|
The I-League (known as Hero I-League for sponsorship ties with Hero MotoCorp) is a men's professional football league, which is one of two co-existing highest level leagues in Indian football system, along with the Indian Super League. It is currently contested by 13 clubs across the country.
The competition was founded in 2007 as the successor to the National Football League (NFL), with the first season starting in November 2007. The league was launched as India's first ever professional football league with the aim to increase the player pool for the India national team. I-League operates on a system of promotion and relegation with I-League 2nd division, based on State leagues results. For the clubs that become I-League champions, they are granted the opportunity to participate in the AFC Cup, Asia's secondary international club competition.Until 2019-20 it was the only top division league of India. But after AFC approved Indian Super League as premier top division league in October 2019, I-League becames the official second-tier football league in Indian football league system.
Since the inception of the I-League, a total of seven clubs have been crowned champions. Dempo have won the most titles in league history, being crowned champions three times. Churchill Brothers, Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru have won the league twice. Salgaocar, Aizawl, Minerva Punjab, Chennai City and Gokulam Kerala have won it once.
In 1996, the first domestic league was started in India known as the National Football League. The league was started in an effort to introduce professionalism to Indian football. Despite that ambition, that not been achieved to this date. During the National Football League days, the league suffered from poor infrastructure and unprofessionalism from its clubs. One of the clubs in the league, FC Kochin, went defunct in 2002 after it was revealed that the club had not paid salaries since 2000 after running up 2.5 crores in losses a season.
After the 2006–07 NFL season, it was announced that the National Football League would be relaunched and rebranded as the I-League for the 2007–08 season. The league's first season consisted of eight teams from the previous NFL campaign and two teams from the 2nd Division to form a 10 team league. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), the title sponsors of the previous NFL, were named as the title sponsors of the I-League before the league kicked off in November 2007. The league also announced a change in their foreign-player restrictions with the new rule being that all the clubs could sign four foreigners – three non-Asian and one which must be Asian. The league also announced that, for the first season, matches will be broadcast on Zee Sports.
The early seasons (2007–2010)
The first ever I-League match took place on 24 November 2007 between Dempo and Salgaocar. The match, which took place at the Fatorda Stadium in Margao, ended 3–0 in favour of Dempo with Chidi Edeh scoring the first ever goal in league history in the third minute. After eighteen rounds it was Dempo who came out as the first ever champions in the I-League. Viva Kerala and Salgaocar, however, ended up as the first two teams to ever be relegated from the I-League.
The next season the I-League was expanded from 10 to 12 teams. Mumbai, Chirag United, Mohammedan, and Vasco were all promoted from the I-League 2nd Division to make the expansion possible. This however brought up early concerns over how "national" the I-League was. The 2008–09 season would see eleven of the twelve teams come from three different cities. The previous season saw all ten teams come from four different cities. Bhaichung Bhutia, then captain of the Indian national team, said that it was the federations job to spread the game across the country and that it needed to happen.
Regardless of the early criticism, the I-League went on as scheduled and once the 2008–09 season concluded. it was Churchill Brothers who came out on top. Then, before the 2009–10 season, the league was once again expanded from 12 teams to 14. In order to make this happen Salgaocar, Viva Kerala, Pune, and Shillong Lajong were all promoted from the 2nd Division to the I-League. This helped the I-League retain some criticism about how national the league was as now the league would be played in seven different cities/states: Goa, Kerala, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Punjab, and Shillong.
After the 2009–10 season it was Dempo who came out on top for the second time in I-League history.
Conflict of parties
On 9 December 2010 the All India Football Federation signed a 15-year, 700-crore deal with Reliance Industries and International Management Group of the United States. The deal gave IMG-Reliance exclusive commercial rights to sponsorship, advertising, broadcasting, merchandising, video, franchising, and rights to create a new football league. This deal came about after the AIFF ended their 10-year deal with Zee Sports five years early.
Two months later, on 8 February 2011, it was reported that twelve of the fourteen I-League clubs held a private meeting in Mumbai to discuss the ongoing issues related to the league. It was never revealed what was exactly talked about at this meeting. Then, on 22 February, it was announced that the same twelve I-League clubs that attended the meeting would not be signing the AFC–licensing papers needed to play in the I-League. The reasoning for this was because the I-League clubs were not happy over the fact that IMG-Reliance had so far done nothing to promote the I-League and that they demanded the I-League be made a separate entity from both the AIFF and IMG-Reliance. At this time however there were rumours that IMG-Reliance had been planning on revamping the I-League along the same lines as Major League Soccer of the United States for the 2012–13 season.
On 11 March 2012, following the disbanding of two former I-League clubs – JCT and Mahindra United, it was announced that the I-League clubs would be forming their own organization known as the Indian Professional Football Clubs Association (IPFCA) in order to safeguard their interest and promote football in India. Every club, except for HAL and AIFF–owned Pailan Arrows, joined the newly formed organization. Soon after, it was announced that there would be a meeting held between the AIFF, IMG-Reliance, and the IPFCA on 20 April 2012. In this meeting, IMG-Reliance would present their plan on how they would grow the I-League but the meeting never occurred for reasons unknown.
Then, on 4 May 2012, the AIFF hosted the last ad hoc meeting – an annual meeting between the AFC and AIFF to assess the growth of Indian football. The AFC president at the time, Zhang Jilong, was also in attendance at this meeting. It was reported that the IPFCA would use this meeting to voice their displeasure at the AIFF and IMG-Reliance but the association never showed up at the meeting.
On 18 June 2012 the IPFCA was officially sanctioned under the Society's Act of 1960.
Despite the ongoing war between the AIFF, IMG-Reliance, and the IPFCA, the league did manage to improve its product on the field and awareness did increase during this period. It all started when the India national team participated in the AFC Asian Cup in 2011 for the first time in 27 years. Despite being knocked-out in the group stage after losing all three of their games, India came back home more popular than ever. Subrata Pal, of Pune gained the most popularity after his impressive performances in goal for India during the Asian Cup. At the same time, before the Asian Cup, Sunil Chhetri became the second Indian footballer in the modern footballing era to move abroad when he signed for the Kansas City Wizards in Major League Soccer in 2010. He also became the first exported Indian from the I-League.
The league was then given a major boost from its main derby, the Kolkata derby, between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. On 20 November 2011, 90,000 people watched at the Salt Lake Stadium as Mohun Bagan defeated East Bengal 1–0. The league also saw more expansion to others areas with the promotion of United Sikkim from the 2nd Division, however, their reign was short lived as financial troubles saw them relegated the next season.
Meanwhile, while the league continued to grow, so did the players' demand. During this period plenty of Indian players were wanted on trial by foreign clubs, mainly in Europe. After his return from MLS, Sunil Chhetri and international teammate Jeje Lalpekhlua were called for trials at Scottish Premier League side Rangers in 2011. Subrata Pal had trials at RB Leipzig before finally signing for Vestsjælland in 2014. And Gurpreet Singh Sandhu underwent trials at then Premier League side Wigan Athletic and finally signing for Stabæk Fotball, Norway in 2014.
At the same time, as Indian players demand abroad increased, the demand for higher quality foreigners in the I-League also increased. Former A-League player of the year and Costa Rican international Carlos Hernández signed with Prayag United before the 2012–13 season from the Melbourne Victory. Lebanese international Bilal Najjarine also signed with Churchill Brothers in 2012.
Successful clubs by seasons
|2007–08||Dempo (1/3)||Churchill Brothers||JCT|
|2008–09||Churchill Brothers (1/2)||Mohun Bagan||Sporting Goa|
|2009–10||Dempo (2/3)||Churchill Brothers||Pune|
|2011–12||Dempo (3/3)||East Bengal||Churchill Brothers|
|2012–13||Churchill Brothers (2/2)||Pune||East Bengal|
|2013–14||Bengaluru (1/2)||East Bengal||Salgaocar|
|2014–15||Mohun Bagan (1/2)||Bengaluru||Royal Wahingdoh|
|2015–16||Bengaluru (2/2)||Mohun Bagan||East Bengal|
|2016–17||Aizawl||Mohun Bagan||East Bengal|
|2017–18||Minerva Punjab||NEROCA||Mohun Bagan|
|2018–19||Chennai City||East Bengal||Real Kashmir|
|2019–20||Mohun Bagan (2/2)||Not Awarded[a]|
|2020–21||Gokulam Kerala||Churchill Brothers||TRAU|
Performance by clubs
|Club||Titles||Runners-up||Third place||Winning seasons||Runners-up seasons||Third place seasons|
|Dempo||3||0||1||2007–08, 2009–10, 2011–12||2010–11|
|Mohun Bagan||2||3||1||2014–15, 2019–20||2008–09, 2015–16, 2016–17||2017–18|
|Churchill Brothers||2||3||1||2008–09, 2012–13||2007–08, 2009–10,
|East Bengal||0||4||3||2010–11, 2011–12, 2013–14,
|2012–13, 2015–16, 2016–17|
The following is a list of clubs who have played in the I-League at any time since its formation in 2007 to the current season. Teams playing in the 2021-22 I-League season are indicated in bold. A total of 36 teams have played in the I-League.
As of November 2021[update]
|Pos.||Team||S||P||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||1st||2nd||3rd||1st App||Last / Recent app||Highest finish|
|19||Chirag United Club Kerala||4||96||22||23||51||96||160||-64||89||0||0||0||2007–08||2011–12||9th|
|Indian Super League|
There are several key rivalries and local derbies that have formed in the I-League, including:
- Goa Derby
- South Indian Derby
Since the league began in 2007 the rules of the league have changed almost yearly. Currently, the league has 11 teams. Each club played each other twice during the season, once at home and the other away from home. The team that wins a match receives three points while both teams earn point if they draw. A loser is not awarded any points. At the end of the season, the team with the most points wins the league. In the case of a tie then head to head record is looked upon. further, in the case of a tie, the goal difference is looked upon of the tied teams.
Clubs from the I-League primarily participate internationally in the AFC Cup, however, some I-League clubs have had the chance to qualify for the AFC Champions League. From 2007 to 2011 champions of the previous I-League season were allowed to play Champions League qualifiers. Then, from 2011 to 2013, no I-League club played in a qualifier till Pune in 2014, after club passed the AFC Licensing criteria. However, no I-League club has actually qualified for the AFC Champions League group stage.
Since the original National Football League, the Indian league has always been sponsored. When the I-League began in 2007 the last sponsor from the old National Football League, ONGC, were brought in as the sponsors, making the league be known as the ONGC I-League. However, after the 2010–11 season, the deal with ONGC was not renewed and the I-League was left without a sponsorship deal till 2013. On 24 September 2013, it was announced that telecommunications company, Airtel would be the new title sponsor of the I-League, thus making the league known as the Airtel I-League. In December 2014, it was announced that Hero MotoCorp would replace Airtel as the title sponsor for the league and hence the league would be known has Hero I-League.
Since 2007 the I-League has managed to find a way to be telecast, which is drastic in increasing the profile and popularity of the league. Before the inaugural 2007–08 season, the All India Football Federation reached a deal with Zee Sports to broadcast 45 of the 90 matches that season with TEN Sports broadcasting 15 matches in the inaugural season. The deal with Zee Sports was a continuation of the 10-year deal reached between the AIFF and Zee Sports in 2005. However, in October 2009, Zee Sports reportedly sent a letter to the AIFF asking for the Federation to review the 10-year contract after concerns were raised by the broadcaster that the league was not attracting as many sponsors as they would have liked. In August 2010 it was revealed that there were crunch talks between the AIFF and Zee Sports over these concerns and that there was a provision in the 10-year deal that said it could be reviewed after the first five years. AIFF has signed a three-year deal with Lex Sportel Vision Pvt. Ltd. to broadcast the I-League on DSport starting 2019–20 season. The 13th edition of I-League is scheduled to commence from 30 November, featuring 11 teams and 110 matches. Separately, AIFF has commissioned Instat Limited – an Ireland-based company to produce feed of the live audio-visual coverage for the broadcast on DSport. Instat will produce all games with an 8-camera setup. AIFF's agreement with Instat Limited will run for three years. I-League for past two seasons was showcased on Star Sports. However, as per the request of the I-League clubs, the AIFF and FSDL (Football Sports Development Limited) negotiated the deal with the new broadcast partner providing exclusive rights for on-air and digital content.
|Period||TV telecast||Online streaming|
|2010–2017||Ten Action, Ten Sports||DittoTV|
|2017–2019||Star Sports 2 & Star Sports 3||Hotstar, Jio TV|
One of the major criticisms of the I-League has been the league's continuing financial instability. Since the league began in 2007 the league has seen four clubs disband their operations – Chirag United Kerala, JCT, Mahindra United, and Pailan Arrows. When JCT disbanded, head of operations, Samir Thapar stated that the lack of any credible exposure and money as a major reason for JCT disbanding. The majority of clubs in the league rely on main sponsors the fund the team through a season at least. This is mainly due to the fact that clubs in the I-League do not rely on income from merchandise sales or ticket sales and that television revenue goes directly to the All India Football Federation instead of the clubs.
Currently, attendance in the I-League is suffering as the 2013–14 season only averaged 5,618 per game. Mohun Bagan averaged the most spectators that season with an average of 17,068 while Shillong Lajong ended up being the only other I-League club to finish with an average attendance over 10,000 when the finished at 11,308 per game. Part of the reason for these attendances other than the lack of marketing has been cited as being the fact that most I-League matches start in the afternoon, when it is uncomfortably hot for fans, rather than during the cooler evenings.
Many football clubs in India are what termed as institutional teams, in other words controlled or owned by an industrial business. That means it is difficult for players or coaches to turn into complete professionals. The players who play for institutional teams would also work on a full-time job outside the game for his company the team was owned by. This is much the same model which was found in Japan before the introduction of the J. League. The positives are that the teams are usually well resourced with players earning decent money and the reassuring prospect of employment after their footballing days finish. On the negative side, teams only effectively represent an individual business with a few thousand workers, rather than whole cities, and thus do not gain broad general support.
On 21 February 2014 it was officially announced that the two remaining institutional clubs in the I-League – Air India and ONGC – had been expelled from the I-League and that all other institutional clubs would not be allowed to participate in the league.
36 clubs have played in the I-League from its inception since 2007, up to the current season (including the 2021–22 season). Currently I-League is played among 13 clubs.
|Club||City/State/UT||Stadium||Capacity||Owners||Founded||Joined||Seasons in IL||Best finish||Worst finish|
|Aizawl||Aizawl, Mizoram||Rajiv Gandhi Stadium||20,000||Robert Romawia Royte||1984||2015||2012–||1st, 2016–17||8th, 2015–16|
|Churchill Brothers||Margao, Goa||Fatorda Stadium||19,000||Churchill Alemao||1988||2016||2007–14, 2016–||1st, 2008–09, 2012–13||8th, 2013–14|
|Gokulam Kerala||Kozhikode, Kerala||Kozhikode EMS Stadium||80,000||Sree Gokulam Group||2017||2017||2017–||1st, 2020–21||9th, 2018–19|
|Indian Arrows||Bhubaneswar, Odisha||Kalinga Stadium||15,000||All India Football Federation||2010 (as AIFF XI)||2017||2010–13, 2017–||8th, 2011–12||13th, 2017–18|
|Kenkre||Mumbai, Maharashtra||Cooperage Ground||24,000||Adib Krishna Sinai||2000||2021||2021–||Debutant||Debutant|
|Mohammedan||Kolkata, West Bengal||Mohammedan Sporting Ground||22,000||Mohammedan Sporting Club Pvt. Ltd.(50%) and
Bunkerhill Pvt. Ltd.(50%)
|1891||2020||2008–09, 2013–14, 2020–||6th, 2020–21||13th, 2013–14|
|NEROCA||Imphal, Manipur||Khuman Lampak Main Stadium||35,285||NEROCA Football Club Pvt. Ltd.||1965||2017||2015–||2nd, 2017–18||6th, 2018–19|
|Punjab||Ludhiana, Punjab||Guru Nanak Stadium||30,000||RoundGlass Sports||2005 (as Minerva Academy FC)||2016||2015–||1st, 2017–18||9th, 2016–17, 2018–19|
|Rajasthan United||Bhilwara, Rajasthan||Rajasthan University Sports Complex||6,000||RUFC Sports Private Limited||2018 (as JECRC CF)||2021||2021–||Debutant||Debutant|
|Real Kashmir||Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir||TRC Turf Ground||11,000||Shamim Mehraj and Sandeep Chattoo||2016||2018||2018–||3rd, 2018–19||3rd, 2018–19|
|Sreenidi Deccan||Vizag, Andhra Pradesh||[yet to announce]||[yet to announce]||Sreenidhi Group||2015||2021||2021–||Debutant||Debutant|
|Sudeva Delhi||New Delhi, Delhi||Dr. Ambedkar Stadium||30,000||Anuj Gupta and Vijay Hakari||2014||2020||2020–||8th, 2020–21||8th, 2020–21|
|TRAU||Imphal, Manipur||Khuman Lampak Main Stadium||35,285||TRAU Football Club Pvt. Ltd.||1954||2019||2017–||3rd, 2020–21||3rd, 2020–21|
|Home stadiums of current clubs|
|Aizawl||Churchill Brothers||Gokulam Kerala||Indian Arrows||Kenkre||Mohammedan||NEROCA|
|Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Aizawl||Fatorda Stadium, Margao||EMS Stadium, Kozikode||Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar||Cooperage Ground, Mumbai||Mohammedan Sporting Ground, Kolkata||Khuman Lampak Main Stadium, Imphal|
|Capacity: 20,000||Capacity: 19,000||Capacity: 80,000||Capacity: 15,000||Capacity: 5,000||Capacity: 22,000||Capacity: 35,285|
|Punjab||Rajasthan United||Real Kashmir||Sudeva Delhi||Sreenidi Deccan||TRAU|
|Guru Nanak stadium, Ludhiana||Rajasthan University Sports Complex,||TRC Turf Ground, Srinagar||Dr. Ambedkar Stadium, New Delhi||[yet to announce]||Khuman Lampak Main Stadium, Imphal|
|Capacity: 30,000||Capacity: 6,000||Capacity: 11,000||Capacity: 30,000||Capacity: 35,285|
|Club||City/State||Seasons in I-League||Best finish||Worst finish||Current league|
|Chennai City||Chennai||2016 to 2021||1st, 2018–19||8th, 2016–17, 2017–18||Chennai Football Senior Division|
|Shillong Lajong||Shillong||2009 to 2019||5th, 2016–17||14th, 2009–10||Shillong Premier League|
|Dempo||Panjim||2007 to 2015||1st, 2007–08,2009–10, 2011–12||10th, 2014–15||Goa Professional League|
|Salgaocar||Vasco||2007 to 2008, 2009 to 2016||1st, 2010–11||10th, 2007–08||Goa Professional League|
|Bengaluru||Bengaluru||2013 to 2017||1st, 2013–14, 2015–16||4th, 2016–17||Indian Super League|
|United||Kolkata||2008 to 2014||4th, 2012–13||10th, 2012–14||Calcutta Premier Division B|
|Sporting Clube de Goa||Panaji||2007 to 2010, 2011 to 2016||3rd, 2008–09||13th, 2009–10||Goa Professional League|
|Pune||Pune||2009 to 2015||2nd, 2012–13||7th, 2013–14||Defunct|
|Royal Wahingdoh||Shillong||2014 to 2015||3rd, 2014–15||3rd, 2014–15||Defunct|
|Air India||Mumbai||2007 to 2013||8th, 2007–08||13th, 2012–13||Mumbai Football League|
|Rangdajied United||Shillong||2013 to 2014||10th, 2013–14||10th, 2013–14||Shillong Premier League|
|Vasco||Vasco da Gama, Goa||2008 to 2009||12th, 2008–09||12th, 2008–09||Goa Professional League|
|DSK Shivajians||Pune||2015 to 2017||7th, 2016–17||9th, 2015–16||Defunct|
|ONGC||Mumbai||2010 to 2011, 2012 to 2013||9th, 2012–13||14th, 2010–11||Mumbai Football League|
|HAL||Bengaluru||2010 to 2012||12th, 2010–11||14th, 2011–12||Bangalore Super Division|
|East Bengal||Kolkata||2007 to 2020||2nd, 2010–11,2011–12,2013–14,2018–19||9th, 2009–10||Indian Super League|
|Mohun Bagan||Kolkata||2007 to 2020||1st, 2014–15, 2019–20||10th, 2012–13||Indian Super League
(as ATK Mohun Bagan)
|JCT||Hoshiarpur||2007 to 2011||3rd, 2007–08||13th, 2010–11||Defunct|
|United Sikkim||Gangtok||2012 to 2013||14th, 2012–13||14th, 2012–13||Sikkim Premier Division League|
|Mumbai||Mumbai||2007 to 2017||5th, 2015–16||11th, 2009–10, 2012-12||Defunct|
|Mahindra United||Mumbai||2007 to 2010||4th, 2009–10||5th, 2007–08, 2008–09||Defunct|
|Viva Kerala||Kochi||2007 to 2008, 2009 to 2012||9th, 2008–09||12th, 2011–12||Defunct|
|Bharat||Mumbai||2014 to 2015||11th, 2014–15||11th, 2014–15||Defunct|
The role of the head coach in the I-League varies from club to club. Some clubs in the I-League like to appoint technical directors as well as head coaches and the technical directors for the most part are given the power the select the squad and sometimes the entire team management. The All India Football Federation does impose licensing requirements for head coaches in the I-League, the rule being that the head coach must have an AFC A-License in order to coach in the I-League, however, some clubs and coaches like Subhash Bhowmick, Subrata Bhattacharya, Sukhwinder Singh, and Bimal Ghosh are known for accepting a technical directors role in order to bypass the head coaching requirements without an A-License. This has bought about a lot of controversial news in the I-League, most recently being when Churchill Brothers won the I-League after the 2012–13 season with Subhash Bhowmick running the entire team on and off the field but not winning the "Coach of the Year" award due to being listed as the technical director and not the head coach.
Seeing this, the AIFF technical director, Rob Baan, as well as others, advocated that the federation make it mandatory for both technical directors and head coaches to have an AFC A-License. On 14 May 2014 this was officially put into act by the AIFF during their I-League licensing committee meeting.
In terms of coaching performance, after the first seven seasons of the I-League, an Indian head coach has won the I-League four times while a foreign head coach has won it three times. Zoran Đorđević of Serbia was the first ever foreign head coach to win the I-League. Italian coach Vincenzo Alberto Annese was the most recent foreign coach to win the I-League in the 2020–21 season.
Armando Colaco was the first Indian coach to win the I-League in the league's opening season and he has the most I-League championships at three. Khogen Singh is the latest Indian coach to win the I-League in 2017–18 season.
|Nat.||Name||Club||Appointed||Time in charge|
|David Robertson||Real Kashmir||2 January 2017||5 years, 22 days|
|Shanmugam Venkatesh||Indian Arrows||29 November 2019||2 years, 56 days|
|L.Nandakumar Singh||TRAU||27 January 2020||1 year, 362 days|
|Vincenzo Alberto Annese||Gokulam Kerala||9 August 2020||1 year, 168 days|
|Mehrajuddin Wadoo (caretaker manager)||Sudeva Delhi||13 November 2021||72 days|
|Petre Gigiu||Churchill Brothers||20 June 2021||218 days|
|Andrey Chernyshov||Mohammedan||21 May 2021||248 days|
|Akhil Kothari||Kenkre||1 June 2021||237 days|
|Yan Law||Aizawl||19 January 2021||1 year, 5 days|
|Fernando Santiago Varela||Sreenidi Deccan||20 April 2021||279 days|
|Khogen Singh||NEROCA||3 July 2021||205 days|
|Ashley Westwood||Punjab||15 July 2021||193 days|
|Fransesc Bonet||Rajasthan United||3 December 2021||52 days|
|Head coach||Wins||Winning year(s)||Team|
|Kibu Vicuña||1||2019–20||Mohun Bagan|
|Vincenzo Alberto Annese||2020-21||Gokulam Kerala|
|Akbar Nawas||2018-19||Chennai City|
|Sanjoy Sen||2014–15||Mohun Bagan|
|Mariano Dias||2012–13||Churchill Brothers|
|Zoran Đorđević||2008–09||Churchill Brothers|
Player transfer fees
Top transfer fees paid by I-League clubs
|Rank||Player||Fee (min)||Year||Transfer Out||Transfer In||Reference|
|1||Uga Okpara||₹7 crore (US$930,000)||2009||Enyimba||East Bengal|
|2||Odafa Onyeka Okolie||₹3 crore (US$400,000)||2011||Mohun Bagan||Churchill Brothers|
|3||Lester Fernandez||₹20 lakh (US$27,000)||2012||Pune||Prayag United|
|4||Ronaldo Oliveira||₹10 lakh (US$13,000)||2019||Salgaocar||East Bengal|
Top transfer fees received by I-League clubs
|Rank||Player||Fee (min)||Year||Transfer Out||Transfer In||Reference|
|1||Khalid Aucho||₹4 crore (US$530,000)||2019||Churchill Brothers||Misr Lel Makkasa|
|2||Sunil Chhetri||₹1.14 crore (US$150,000)||2014||Bengaluru||Mumbai City|
|3||Pedro Manzi||₹1 crore (US$130,000)||2020||Chennai City||Albirex Niigata|
|4||Eugeneson Lyngdoh||₹90 lakh (US$120,000)||2014||Bengaluru||Pune City|
Individual game highest attendance records
|Rank||Home team||Score||Away team||Attendance||Stadium||Date|
|1||Mohun Bagan||1–0||East Bengal||90,000||Salt Lake Stadium||20 November 2011|
|2||Mohun Bagan||0–1||East Bengal||80,000||Salt Lake Stadium||24 November 2013|
|3||Mohun Bagan||2–1||East Bengal||63,756||Salt lake Stadium||
19 January 2020
|4||Mohun Bagan||1–1||East Bengal||63,342||Salt Lake Stadium||26 January 2016|
|5||Mohun Bagan||1–0||East Bengal||57,780||Salt Lake Stadium||28 March 2015|
Stats and players
|Season||Total goals||Matches played||Average per game|
Season after season, players in the I-League compete for the golden boot title, which is awarded at the end of each season to the top scorer throughout the entire season. The most recent winner of the golden boot is Bidyashagar Singh, who won the golden boot at the end of the 2020–21 season after scoring 12 goals. Ranti Martins is both currently the holders of the most golden boot titles with five golden boots. Along with Odafa Onyeka Okolie, the two Nigerians make up the eight golden boots won by Nigerians, the most of any nationality in the league.
|2007–08||Odafe Onyeka Okolie||Churchill Brothers||22|||
|2008–09||Odafe Onyeka Okolie||Churchill Brothers||26|||
|2009–10||Odafe Onyeka Okolie||Churchill Brothers||22|||
|2012–13||Ranti Martins||Prayag United||27|||
|2013–14||Sunil Chhetri||Bengaluru FC||14|||
|Cornell Glen||Shillong Lajong|
|2014–15||Ranti Martins||East Bengal||17|||
|2015–16||Ranti Martins||East Bengal||12|||
|2016–17||Aser Pierrick Dipanda||Shillong Lajong||11|||
|2017–18||Aser Pierrick Dipanda||Mohun Bagan||13|||
|2018–19||Pedro Manzi||Chennai City FC||21|||
|Willis Plaza||Churchill Brothers S.C.|
|2020–21||Bidyashagar Singh||TRAU FC||12|||
|2007–08||Bhaichung Bhutia||Mohun Bagan||9|||
|2008–09||Sunil Chhetri||East Bengal||9|||
|2009–10||Mohammed Rafi||Mahindra United||13|||
|2010–11||Jeje Lalpekhlua||Indian Arrows||13|||
|2011–12||Chinadorai Sabeeth||Pailan Arrows||9|||
|2012–13||C. K. Vineeth||Prayag United||7|||
|Sushil Kumar Singh||Mumbai|
|C. K. Vineeth||Bengaluru|
|2017–18||Abhijit Sarkar||Indian Arrows||4|||
|2018–19||Jobby Justin||East Bengal||9|||
- Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the league was suspended after 14 March 2020. Only champions were awarded and remaining prize money in the league was equally divided among the remaining participating clubs and no individual prize money was also not awarded. However, Aser Pierrick Dipanda of Minerva Punjab scored the highest number of goals, having scored 12 goals in 15 matches; whereas, Rochharzela of Aizawl scored 6 goals in 15 matches, highest among Indians.
The I-League has only been awarding a proper trophy to the champion since 2013 when the 2012–13 season champions, Churchill Brothers, won the league. Before 2013 the I-League champions received a basic trophy. The new trophy was designed in Europe and is modeled along the lines of the champion trophies in the top European leagues. Regarding the trophy, the AIFF general secretary, Kushal Das, said "It is the endeavour of AIFF to practice the best principles of other leagues and accordingly we thought to create a more contemporary look to the I-League trophy in line with trophies given in European leagues".
End of season I-League awards were previously conducted by the Football Players' Association of India and All India Football Federation since 2008–09 season. Currently the awards include the Hero of the league, the golden boot, the golden glove, the best head coach (Syed Abdul Rahim Award), the best defender (Jarnail Singh Award), the best midfielder and the emerging player of the league, all of which are sponsored by Hero.
Hero of the League
|2018–19||Pedro Manzi||Chennai City|
Syed Abdul Rahim Award
Emerging Player of the Season
Foreign Player of the Year
Indian Player of the Season
Fans' Player of the Year
- As of 28 February 2018
|Champions||₹ 1 crore|
|1st Runners-up||₹ 60 Lakhs|
|2nd Runners-up||₹ 40 Lakhs|
|Fourth||₹ 25 Lakhs|
|Matchday Subsidy||₹ 1 Lakh|
|Match winner||₹ 50 Thousand|
|Hero of the Match||₹ 25 Thousand|
I-League clubs in Asia
Traditionally, I-League clubs have done particularly well in the AFC Cup. In 2008 Dempo managed to reach the semi-finals of the AFC Cup before being defeated by Al-Safa of Lebanon. East Bengal also managed to reach the semi-finals in 2013 before being knocked-out by Kuwait. Bengaluru is the only I-League club to reach the AFC Cup Final in 2016 but lost to Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya of Iraq.
|Season||AFC Cup||Position||AFC Champions League||Position|
|2008–09||Mohun Bagan||4th in Group Stage||Dempo||Qualifiers|
|2009–10||East Bengal||4th in Group Stage||Churchill Brothers||Qualifiers|
|Churchill Brothers||Round of 16|
|2010–11||East Bengal||4th in Group Stage||Dempo||Qualifiers|
|Dempo||Round of 16|
|2011–12||East Bengal||4th in Group Stage||Salgaocar||DNP|
|Salgaocar||4th in Group Stage|
|2012–13||East Bengal||Semi-Final||Churchill Brothers||DNP|
|Churchill Brothers||3rd in Group Stag|
|2013–14||Churchill Brothers||Round of 16||Pune||Qualifiers|
|Pune||4th in Group Stage|
|2014–15||Bengaluru||Round of 16||Bengaluru||Preliminary Round 1|
|East Bengal||3rd in Group Stage|
|2015–16||Mohun Bagan||Round of 16||Mohun Bagan||Preliminary Round 2|
|2016–17||Bengaluru||Interzonal finals||Bengaluru||Preliminary Round 2|
|Mohun Bagan||Group stage|
|2017–18||Aizawl||4th in Group Stage||Aizawl||Play-off round|
|2018–19||Minerva Punjab||3rd in Group Stage||Minerva Punjab||Preliminary Round 2|
|2019–20||Chennai City||Cancelled||Chennai City||Preliminary Round 1|
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