Shillong, May 20: After a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Shillong Premier League will begin on 15th June, it was announced by the Shillong Sports Association yesterday.
Eight teams have been confirmed for this season – defending champions Shillong Lajong, 2019 runners-up Rangdajied United, Langsning, Ryntih, Nangkiew Irat, Malki, Mawkhar and Mawlai.
Malki make a return to the SPL for the first time since 2018; at the end of that season they were suspended for a year due to violence on the part of some of their fans. They also had to pay a fine in order to be re-admitted into the SPL.
This is thus the first time since 2017 that we’ve had eight clubs in the SPL – 2018 featured seven as Shillong United disappeared suddenly while 2019, the year that Ryntih replaced Shillong United through direct entry, saw Malki banished.
Mawkhar and Mawlai, meanwhile, have been promoted from the First Division 2019; Mawkhar had won that season, with Mawlai finishing second.
With the full quota of eight teams, we will have 56 matches this season. As with the First Division, there are no playoffs or final (this was introduced in 2019) – whoever tops the points table after the 56 games wins the title.
Unfortunately, with neither the JN Stadium or the SSA Stadium at First Ground capable of holding football at the moment, the SPL this season will take place at Third Ground. That’s not great for players, spectators or even the SSA (they will lose out on ticket revenue) but at least we get the SPL back.
Yesterday, the SSA’s tournament committee held a meeting with representatives of the participating clubs and Shillong Referees Society to discuss the upcoming SPL season. Teams revealed their colours and were shown the official match ball.
(TSR file photo)