List of Indian football champions
The Indian football champions are the winners of the highest league in Indian football system. Currently, two parallel league system exists, the Indian Super League (ISL) and the I-League where ISL is ranked in the highest spot and I league is ranked in the second spot. ISL champion represents India in the AFC Champions League play-offs, and the I-League champion gets to play the AFC Cup play-off.
At first the first Indian football league, the National Football League (commonly known as the NFL) was an association football league competition in India which was organised into three divisions. The Premier Division of the league was first introduced in 1996, though the country already had a long history in the sport thanks to the likes of the IFA Shield and the Federation Cup. The league though is now transformed into the I-League and continues with that name. The change was supposed to bring more popularity to Indian Football. The first league season of I-League consisted of eight teams from the NFL plus two promoted teams from the former Division Two.
The 1996–97 Indian National Football League was the first season of the NFL and ended with JCT Mills FC being crowned champions. The NFL era though saw Kolkata clubs East Bengal and Mohun Bagan had the most championships with three respectively. The I-League era is different though as most of the champions of the league have come from Goa.
Currently the teams with the most championships in I-League is Dempo who have won three championships in the league. They are also the team with the most championships overall (3 in I-League + 2 in NFL = 5 titles overall).
In 2014, a franchise based football league named Indian Super League has started. In its first three seasons it was running without recognition from AFC. Before 2017-18 season, ISL get recognition from Asian Football Confederation (AFC). In July 2017, it was proposed by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) that the Indian Super League champion be granted a spot in the AFC Cup, Asia's second-tier club competition. On 25 July 2017, the AFC approved the AIFF's proposal. Thus, from the 2017–18 season, the Indian Super League champions were allowed to participate in the AFC Cup from the qualification stages of the competition. Meanwhile, India's spot in the AFC Champions League, Asia's top club competition, was still kept by the I-League, thus two leagues were parallelly running in the country. In October 2019, a roadmap for developement of league in India was proposed. All stakeholders accepted the proposal where it was announced that ISL champions would now be entitled to the AFC Champions League playoffs, starting from 2021 edition and the I-League champion will get to play the AFC Cup play-off.
In November 2019, AFC Competitions Committee decided to expand the AFC Champions League from existing 32 teams to 40 teams from the 2021 edition. India currently ranked 8th in the club competitions in the west zone. The champions of the associations ranked 7th to 10th in both the West Region and East Region are expected to get an AFC Champions League direct group stage slot starting from 2021, as long as they fulfill the AFC Champions League criteria. If India get the AFC Champions League group stage slot from 2021 edition, then the parallel league system will cease to exist and ISL will be the premier league of India and the winner will be the champions of India.
National Football League
(number of titles)
|1996–97||JCT (1)||Churchill Brothers||East Bengal|
|1997–98||Mohun Bagan (1)||East Bengal||Salgaocar|
|1998–99||Salgaocar (1)||East Bengal||Churchill Brothers|
|1999–2000||Mohun Bagan (2)||Churchill Brothers||Salgaocar|
|2000–01||East Bengal (1)||Mohun Bagan||Churchill Brothers|
|2001–02||Mohun Bagan (3)||Churchill Brothers||Vasco|
|2002–03||East Bengal (2)||Salgaocar||Vasco|
|2003–04||East Bengal (3)||Dempo||Mahindra United|
|2004–05||Dempo (1)||Sporting Goa||East Bengal|
|2005–06||Mahindra United (1)||East Bengal||Mohun Bagan|
|2006–07||Dempo (2)||JCT||Mahindra United|
(number of titles)
|2007–08||Dempo (3)||Churchill Brothers||JCT|
|2008–09||Churchill Brothers (1)||Mohun Bagan||Sporting Goa|
|2009–10||Dempo (4)||Churchill Brothers||Pune|
|2010–11||Salgaocar (2)||East Bengal||Dempo|
|2011–12||Dempo (5)||East Bengal||Churchill Brothers|
|2012–13||Churchill Brothers (2)||Pune||East Bengal|
|2013–14||Bengaluru (1)||East Bengal||Salgaocar|
|2014–15||Mohun Bagan (4)||Bengaluru||Royal Wahingdoh|
|2015–16||Bengaluru (2)||Mohun Bagan||East Bengal|
|2016–17||Aizawl (1)||Mohun Bagan||East Bengal|
|2017–18||Minerva Punjab (1)||NEROCA||Mohun Bagan|
|2018–19||Chennai City (1)||East Bengal||Real Kashmir|
Ten clubs have been Indian champions. Clubs in italics are no longer active.
|Club||Winners||Runners-Up||Winning Seasons||Runners-Up Seasons|
|Dempo||5||1||2004–05, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2009–10, 2011–12||2003–04|
|Mohun Bagan||4||4||1997–98, 1999–00, 2001–02, 2014–15||2000–01, 2008–09, 2015–16, 2016–17|
|East Bengal||3||7||2000–01, 2002–03, 2003–04||1997–98, 1998–99, 2005–06, 2010–11, 2011–12, 2013–14, 2018–19|
|Churchill Brothers||2||5||2008–09, 2012–13||1996–97, 1999–00, 2001–02, 2007–08, 2009–10|
- Bold Active Indian Super League
- "ISL gets official recognition from AFC, becomes second national football league". FirstPost. 28 June 2017. Archived from the original on 2 January 2018. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
- "India clubs agree to work together on league roadmap". AFC. 14 October 2019. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
- "AFC to invest in new era of national team and club competitions". Asian Football Confederation. 26 October 2019.
- "More Member Associations to benefit from inclusive AFC Champions League". AFC. 23 November 2019.
- Chaudhuri, Arunava; Jönsson, Mikael; Bobrowsky, Josef (6 December 2006). "India 1996/97". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 1 June 2012.