I-League to start on January 9

The I-League winners' trophy. AIFF Media

The 2020-2021 edition of the I-League will begin on January 9, 2021 in Kolkata, the All India Football Federation announced on Saturday.

Eleven teams will need to enter the bio-secure bubble fourteen days prior to their first match according to the yet to be announced schedule.

All teams will face each other once in the first leg of the league before getting divided into two different groups. The top six teams -- as per the points table -- will then face each other to decide the winner. The remaining five teams will play against one another in a one-leg league format. The team with maximum points (cumulative points collected from all fifteen matches), will be the winner of the tournament.

Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the previous edition of I-League came to an abrupt halt before the football action resumed in India with the I-League Qualifier 2020, held in October this year.

"We can't thank Government of West Bengal and IFA enough for their unconditional support to hosting the I-League Qualifier this year. Without their support, we couldn't even think of hosting the tournament smoothly," CEO, Leagues, Sunando Dhar told AIFF.

"The I-League Qualifier was a stage rehearsal for the next edition of I-League as it'll be a longer and more challenging tournament from every single aspect. We'll work with them hand in hand to make it a grand success and we're confident to pull it off successfully," he said.

The matches will be hosted adhering to the COVID-19 SOPs released by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India. No spectators will be allowed inside the stadiums during the tournament.