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The Schedule and Format of the Indian Super League 2023-24 Season

18 Mar 2024
Nikhil Kalro 18 Mar 2024
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  • The 10th edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) started on September 21, 2023, with exciting competition and changing leaderboard.
  • Mumbai City FC, the current leaders, are aiming for a second consecutive Shield win.
  • Four clubs have already made it to playoffs, while the top four clubs compete for the Shield and direct semifinal qualification.
ISL Trophy
The Indian Super League (ISL) trophy. (Getty Images)
The tenth edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) started on September 21, 2023.
  • Regular Season
  • Playoffs
  • The Season So Far
  • Analysis
  • Prediction

Multiple teams have sat at the top of the ISL table momentarily before another team leapfrogged them. That is how competitive India’s top-division club football league is. Overall, the ISL continues to be one of the most unpredictable leagues in the world, providing a lot of entertainment to its fans.

Four clubs have already booked their playoff spots approaching the end of the regular season. Two spots are still up for grabs, and the race for the ISL Shield is far from over. Mumbai City FC won the shield last season, and after the 19th round this season, the Islanders are currently occupying the summit spot, aiming to win a second consecutive Shield.

People who have followed the league from the start are familiar with the format and the tweaks that have been made over the years. Unlike the top European club football leagues, the ISL follows a format similar to the club football leagues of North and South America. This includes Major League Soccer (MLS) and Liga MX.

Regular Season

Every new season starts with the regular phase, which features a double round-robin format. This season, after Punjab FC were promoted to the ISL from the second division, the ISL team count rose to 12. Each team faces 11 opponents twice during the regular season. Hence, each team plays 22 games during this phase and has to accumulate maximum points.

The team that finishes with the highest points tally wins the ISL Shield and also secures a semifinal berth in the ISL playoffs. The team that finishes second also qualifies directly for the semis. Teams that finish third, fourth, fifth, and sixth qualify for the knockouts, and only two of those four teams can advance to the semifinals.


Teams that finish fourth and fifth face each other in the first knockout. The higher-seeded team gets the home advantage, and the winner of this encounter advances to the semis to take on the ISL Shield winners. Teams that finish third and sixth will lock horns in the higher-seeded team’s backyard, and the winner will take on the second seed in the semis.

The knockouts are single-legged fixtures with no second chances. However, the semifinals are two-legged and can be a tricky affair. If the aggregate scores are tied after the second leg, the match goes to extra time and to penalties if nothing separates the teams after 120 minutes. Once the two finalists are decided, a neutral venue hosts the grand finale.

The Season So Far

The regular season is approaching its end, and Mumbai City, Odisha FC, Mohun Bagan, and FC Goa have secured playoff qualification. Kerala Blasters are favourites to clinch the fifth playoff spot. With three league games to go, the Tuskers only need three points to confirm playoff presence this season.

The fight for the sixth and final playoff spot is going to be intense. Six teams are fighting for the coveted spot. Jamshedpur FC are currently occupying it with a tally of 21 points. Bengaluru FC and Punjab FC have the same number of points but are behind the Red Miners because of a poor goal difference.

Northeast United recovered well this season, and the fairytale run might extend to the playoffs, as the Highlanders are only a point off sixth place. East Bengal are losing pace but are within striking range, just three points away from sixth. Chennaiyin FC are level on points with East Bengal but have a game in hand.

If the Marina Machans win that game, they could go level on points with Jamshedpur FC, Bengaluru FC, and Punjab FC, further intensifying the playoff pursuit this season. While these clubs fight for sixth, the top four clubs are competing for the Shield and direct semifinal qualification.


Kerala Blasters are almost out of the race for the ISL Shield since the Tuskers can only accumulate a maximum of 41 points this season. Mumbai City FC and Mohun Bagan SG are just two points off that figure and are expected to touch it in the next matchweek. This means the league Shield race will be between four teams.

In the last seven ISL games, Mumbai City have won five and drawn two, extending their unbeaten run in the competition to seven matches. The Islanders are expected to pick up three easy points against a struggling Hyderabad side but may struggle against fellow contenders Odisha FC and Mohun Bagan. The latter could also be the title decider.

Mohun Bagan are unbeaten in their last eight ISL games, winning six and drawing two. They have won each of their last three league games and will play strugglers Chennaiyin FC next. After that, they will lock horns with a resurgent Punjab FC side before clashing with Bengaluru FC and then concluding their regular season against the defending Shield winners.

FC Goa are desperate to build winning momentum and extend their unbeaten streak just before the playoffs. The Gaurs ended a five-game winless streak, comprising three losses and two draws, with a win over East Bengal. After that, the club was held to a high-scoring draw by Punjab FC, before they secured a crucial win over Bengaluru FC.

Odisha FC have lost momentum at the wrong time. Their stunning 13-game unbeaten streak in the ISL ended recently after a loss against Chennaiyin FC. During the amazing run, the Juggernauts won nine games and drew four. They also reached the final of the Super Cup but lost against East Bengal in the final.

A recent exit from the AFC Cup has also brought the morale down. The club will now play tricky matches against Bengaluru FC, Punjab FC, Mumbai City, and Northeast United. Comparatively, FC Goa have easier fixtures, as the Gaurs lock horns with Hyderabad FC, Jamshedpur FC, and Chennaiyin FC.


FC Goa might join Mumbai City and Mohun Bagan in the race for the Shield. However, it is very difficult for them to win it. The winner could be decided on the final day of the regular season when the Mariners and the Islanders lock horns at the Salt Lake Stadium. As things stand, Mohun Bagan will be favourites to win the Shield.

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