Beware East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC : I-League champions can be decided by drawing of lots

With I-League’s thrilling three-way title race entering its business end, Goal’s Atanu Mitra puts his daydreaming cloak on to list down the results that can make the impossible …

Look away Mohun Bagan fans! If I-League has to have its best ever grand finale this year, the Mariners can’t be a part of the last day delirium. As things stand now, if East Bengal beat Bengaluru FC 1-0 on Sunday and the two teams play out a number of favourable results (favourable for the epic finale of course), the country’s top-tier football league can be decided by drawing of lots. You heard it right, by one plain and simple coin toss!

The regulations of the I-League to distangle multiple sides ending the campaign on exact same points have been listed below:

A) Greater number of points obtained in the matches between the Teams concerned;
B) Goal difference resulting from the matches between the Teams concerned;
C) Greater number of goals scored in the matches between the Teams concerned;
D) Goal difference in all the matches;
E) Greater number of goals scored in all the matches;
F) Drawing of lots

The implication is simple. If East Bengal defeat Bengaluru FC in the much important face-off this weekend with a 1-0 score-line, the two teams will go level on the conditions A,B and C. Now that would mean that if the teams finish with same goal difference and same number of goals scored in the competition, they will have to be separated at the AIFF headquarters in Delhi by drawing of lots.

This may sound almost impossible and it indeed is, but there is a probability associated with the event and it cannot be neglected. Given below are a set of results which could lead to the above mentioned scenario:

East Bengal 1-0 Bengaluru FC
East Bengal  0-1 Sporting Clube de Goa
Bengaluru FC 2 -2 Salgaocar
Mohun Bagan 1-2 Bengaluru FC
Shillong Lajong 0-1 East Bengal

These scorelines will mean that the Blues and the Red and Golds will have same values for all the metrics on the points table, i.e. 30 points, 23 goals scored and 15 goals conceded. It must be noted that Kolkata giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan cannot finish on the same numbers, due to the fact that the Red and Golds have a better head-to-head record against their arch-rivals.

Bengaluru and Mohun Bagan cannot have same values for all the metrics on the points table, goal difference, goals scored and goals conceded. To satisfy the conditions A, B, C listed above, Bengaluru FC will win have to win 2-0 against the Mariners on the final match-day. Those three points would mean Bengaluru will have at least 29 points at the end of the campaign.

Now if Mohun Bagan wins against DSK Shivajians and Bengaluru lose against East Bengal and Salgaocar, the two teams will be tied on points and head-to-head records. But in that case, Mohun Bagan could finish with a goal difference of at least +10 (one 2-0 loss and one win).

However, the Ashley Westwood coached side can at most ensure a goal difference of +8 in that case (one 2-0 win, two defeats). That means, the two teams who were in contention for the league title until the final day of the season last year, can never find themselves tied on every possible parameter.

The I-League is now accustomed to breath-taking championship races, but drawing of lots to decide the winner will be something that top flight Indian football has never seen.

– Atanu Mitra

Goal media

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