Nine months season is a much better format for coaches, players, and club administrators: John Gregory

Former Chennaiyin FC head coach John Gregory believes that a longer domestic calendar from 2022-23 season onwards in Indian football would benefit coaches, players as well as club administrators and fans. According to him, this change will have similar approach as that of European football.

The organizers, Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), have already developed a proposal to align the Indian footballer calendar with the European leagues by extending it to nine months starting in 2022–2023. As stated, the season would start in August and last through May of the following year.

Gregory, who assisted Chennaiyin FC in winning the Hero ISL championship in 2018, stated the following to TOI, “For coaches, players, and club administrators having the season stretched out over nine months is a much better format. It will be tremendously exciting for everyone to be involved in a long-term project. As a coach or player, I would be incredibly excited about playing the season spread across nine months. It will give you good recovery time after each game and with that should come better performances from your players and obviously more time for coaches to implement their ideas and philosophies on the training pitches.”

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The Englishman joined Chennaiyin FC at the beginning of the 2017–18 Hero ISL season and led the team to their second Hero ISL title. Gregory, who spent three seasons at the Marina Machans, praised the sport's expansion in the nation ever since he first learned about Indian football.

“The season now will be more in line with the type of season that certainly Europe experiences. I don’t doubt the future of football in India. I’ve seen it myself since 2017 grow and grow. The game has captured the imagination of the people incredibly well, particularly since the ISL was introduced and world-class players have come to the country and paraded their talents. The season expanding to nine months is a bold step,” said former Chennaiyin FC coach.

Now clubs will participate in two cup competitions, the Durand Cup and the Super Cup, in addition to the two leagues, the Hero ISL, and I-League. Gregory believes that the extra opportunities will help players improve and instill a winning mentality in them.

“More silverware on offer! Your career is often judged on how many cups, titles, or caps you won during your time as a player. So, more competitions mean more chances of medals. As you develop as a young player you want to be involved in these big challenges. Playing in semi-finals and finals is important for your development as we saw last season in the ISL for players such as Rohit Danu, Akash Mishra, Liston Colaco, and Kiyan Nassiri. They will have gained huge knowledge and experience playing in the kind of environment they faced last season. They will also understand that when you are in professional football that winning is the only thing that matters and you have to do everything in your power to make sure that happens,” the 68-year-old said.

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