The eighth season of the Indian Super League (ISL 2021-22) will witness an increase in the number of Indian players in the playing XI, as the new Coach & Player Selection Guidelines of Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) now mandates clubs to have a minimum of seven Indian players on the field at any point of time.
An increase in the number of Indian players from six to seven thus means a spot less for foreign players which will now be capped at a maximum of four.
Since the inception of the ISL, there has been constant progression, innovation, and focus to develop Indian football. The latest changes in player guidelines are incorporated with the League’s philosophy of bringing constant improvement to India’s premier football event. The inaugural 2014 season had witnessed a playing composition of 6 foreigners and 5 Indian players. Over the years, the League has gradually increased the spots for Indian players, with ISL 2017-18 having a mandate of a minimum of 6 Indian players on the field, which now has been further increased to 7 for the 2021-22 season.
The cap on foreign players to a maximum of 4 is in accordance with the Asian Football Confederation’s club competitions’ regulations. With the changes, clubs can sign a maximum of 6 foreign players of which one is required to be from an AFC member nation. A club also has an option to sign a foreign marquee player within the League-approved classifications.
Starting this season, FSDL will mandate clubs to increase their development player signing from a minimum of two to four, while continuing to have two of such development players be part of the match-day squad.
The League witnessed a significant improvement in the performance of developmental players last season with the likes of Akash Mishra, Apuia (Lalengmawia), Jeakson Singh, Rahul KP, Asish Rai, etc. delivering breakthrough performances and underlining the growth of young footballers in India.
A club can have a maximum squad strength of 35 players, with 3 registered goalkeepers. A club can also have an injury replacement for an Indian player (outside of the max. 35 registered players). The squad salary cap remains at INR 16.5 crore for the ISL 2021-22 season.