Chennai City, Minerva Punjab in I-League

AIFF general secretary Kushal Das. Anshuman Poyrekar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Sunday gave Chennai City FC and Minerva Punjab FC the right to take part in the I-League's 2016-17 season.

The decision was taken after the federation evaluated bids from five clubs. Neroca FC, Sudeva FC and FC Bardez Goa were the others in the running. The AIFF had started a fresh round of tendering for the right to field a team in the I-League on November 25.

"With Chennai City FC and Minerva Punjab FC joining the fray now, we have 10 teams competing in the next I-League," said AIFF general secretary Kushal Das. "Now, we have representatives from Chennai and Punjab, which means we'll reach out to more supporters and newer markets."

The eight other teams in the league are Bengaluru FC, Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Lajong, Aizawl, Mumbai FC, DSK Shivajians and Churchill Brothers.

Minerva Punjab's presence will mean all four regions of the country will have a team in the I-League for the first time since 2010-11 -- when JCT opted out of the league.

On December 8, the AIFF had reinstated Goa's Churchill Brothers Sports Club in the I-League. The club had been dropped from the league in 2014 -- along with Mohammedan Sporting and Rangdajied United -- after failing to fulfil club licensing criteria.

Churchill Brothers will be the only Goan club in the league this time following the decision of Salgaocar FC, Sporting Clube de Goa and Dempo Sports Club to pull out in protest against the proposed merger of the I-League and the Indian Super League.

Last month, after Sporting Clube de Goa's decision to withdraw from the I-League, the AIFF had initiated retendering for the right to field a team for the 2017 season. The league will begin on January 7.