Aizawl FClead the I-League table with 30 points from 14 games. With four matches to go, their nearest rivals are East Bengal at 27 points while Mohun Bagan have 23 with two games in hand. The north-eastern club have a realistic chance of winning the I-League for the very first time.
However, even that wouldn't guarantee them a place in the new league.
The Mizoram-based club were relegated at the end of 2015-16 season as they finished eighth, a place above DSK Shivajians who were granted an exemption from going down to the second tier.
However, in September last year, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) issued a statement following their Executive Committee Meeting in Goa.
"Keeping in mind the heart-warming performance of Aizawl FC in the last edition, the committee unanimously decided to give them a ticket to play in the 2016-17 edition,” it read.
The Federation Cup finalists were allowed to be part of the I-League this season on the condition that if and when the roadmap for Indian football materialises, they wouldn’t be considered for a berth in the Premier Division.
There is a similar agreement in place with the likes of DSK Shivajians, Churchill Brothers, Minerva and Chennai City FC.