Bengaluru FC are looking at the option of leaving I-League and joining the Indian Super League (ISL) in 2017, International Business Times understands.
The ISL's inaugural edition took place in 2014 and in two years, the league that is not part of the Indian football pyramid, has been a success in India. The I-League is currently the country's recognised league but has taken a hit since the inception of the ISL.
Owned by Mumbai-based company, JSW Group, Bengaluru FC launched themselves in the I-League in 2013. They have already won the league twice in three years, under the guidance of former Manchester United academy graduate Ashley Westwood.
He has now left the club and has been replaced by ex-Barcelona assistant manager Alberto Roca for the upcoming season. The growing popularity of ISL has seen Bengaluru FC consider leaving the I-League to join the former. There are eight franchises participating in the ISL and from 2017, there will be two additional ones, taking the overall count to 10 franchises.
Bengaluru FC are believed to be one of the two clubs making it to the ISL as the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is looking to introduce a three-tier league system, with the ISL being the top club competition in India.
"Bengaluru FC will be one of the two new franchises to be added to the ISL in 2017. They are all set to leave the I-League," a source told IBTimes UK.
The AIFF are not looking to introduce the system of promotion and relegation to the ISL for a few years. The lower tier teams will not have a chance to play in the top-tier club competition, at least, until this rule has been changed.
The two-time I-League champions are open to the idea of featuring in the ISL, provided the ISL becomes the recognised league in India. IBTimes UK has reached out to Bengaluru FC but have not received a comment at the time of publishing.
Bengaluru FC are in the quarter-final of the 2016 AFC Cup, which is organised by the Asian Football Confederation. They will take on Singapore based outfit Tampines Rovers in the last eight of the tournament.