NEW DELHI: Eighteen teams comprising of reserve teams of eight Hero Indian Super League clubs (Except Northeast United FC and Odisha FC) and two Hero I-League clubs (Punjab FC and Indian Arrows) will compete in the preliminary round of Hero Second Division League 2019-20.
The Preliminary round will kick-off in the last week of January 2020. Teams will play on a home and away basis against other teams within a group.
The winners of each group along with the best second-placed team between Group A and C would qualify for the final round. However, if reserve teams of ISL clubs finish as winners or runners-up in any group, the position will be passed on to the next non-ISL team.
In the final round, four qualified teams will play at the central venue on a ‘single-leg’ league system. Eventually, the winners will qualify to the next edition of Hero I-League i.e. Hero I-League 2020-21.
All the eighteen teams have cleared Hero Second Division League club licensing process of 2019-20 season except Lonestar Kashmir, who have been granted a special exemption by the league committee as they could not fulfil the criteria entirety due to reasons beyond their control.
Meanwhile, six teams including reserve teams of four teams are slated to make their debut in the Hero Second Division League this season. They are as follows: FC Bengaluru United, Rajasthan FC, Indian Arrows (reserves), Punjab FC (reserves), Hyderabad FC (reserves) and Mumbai City FC (reserves).
The Groups of the preliminary round are as mentioned below:
Group A: Lonestar Kashmir FC, Punjab FC (reserves), Garhwal FC, Rajasthan FC, ATK (reserves), Jamshedpur FC (reserves).
Group B: Mohammedan Sporting, Bhawanipore, Indian Arrows (reserves), Hyderabad FC (reserves), Bengaluru FC (reserves), Chennaiyin FC (reserves).
Group C: ARA FC, Mumbai City FC (reserves), FC Goa (reserves), FC Bengaluru United, FC Kerala, Kerala Blasters (reserves).