The Australia A-League has been the premier domestic soccer competition in Australia since it was first introduced in the early 2000s. Since the first season in 2005-06, there have been seven teams that have won in the A-League Grand Final, and the addition of new teams and players has ensured that the league remains as popular today as it ever has. Since its beginning, it has been officially called the Hyundai A-League due to the sponsorship received from the Hyundai Motor Company.
The A-League Format
The Australian A-League isn’t like many of the other soccer leagues that European fans have been accustomed to, as there is a play-off format that leads to the A-League Grand Final. The season starts in October, with the Grand Final being played in May. The regular season sees teams face off against each other over 27 rounds. However, the league is also unlike any other competition in Australia, as the team that wins the regular season is called the ‘Premier’, while the team that wins the Grand Final is called the ‘Champion’. Other sports in Australia label the winner of the Grand Final as the ‘premier’.
The regular season of the A-League runs until April. During this regular season, each team will face off against the other teams in the league on three occasions. That means that some teams play at home twice per season against an opponent, while other teams only have one home fixture against the same opponent. The team playing the two games at home changes per season. The team that tops the A-League at the end of the regular season is also awarded a spot in the AFC Champions League.
A-League Finals Series
At the end of the regular season in April, the six teams that occupy the top six spots progress through to the Finals Series. The teams in the top two positions have the advantage of byes in the first round of the finals, while they also play the semi-final at their home stadium. The Elimination Finals pits the teams that finished in third, fourth, fifth, and sixth against each other.
Therefore, the winners of the two Elimination-Finals progress to face off against the teams that finished in first and second place in different semi-finals. The Elimination Finals and semi-finals are both played over one leg, which means that there is no room for mistakes. The winning teams from the semi-finals then meet in the Grand Final, which is played in the stadium of the team that finished the regular season in the highest position.
Teams Involved In The A-League
There are currently eleven teams that compete in the A-League, with a twelfth set to be introduced ahead of the next season. Macarthur FC will be the latest edition to the league, and they will join the eleven teams that have been in competition since 2019. The most recent team to join the league before Macarthur FC was Western United. These are all the teams involved in the A-League at present:
- Adelaide United
- Brisbane Roar
- Central Coast Mariners
- Melbourne City
- Melbourne Victory
- Newcastle Jets
- Perth Glory
- Sydney FC
- Wellington Phoenix
- Western Sydney Wanderers
- Western United
There is currently only one team involved in the A-League from New Zealand. That never used to be the case, as there used to be two teams that were involved in the competition but stopped competing. New Zealand Knights were founded in 1998 and joined the league in 2005, but they dissolved two years later. Meanwhile, the North Queensland Fury joined the league in 2009 but also left two years later. Gold Coast United are another team that left the league, as they dissolved in 2012.
There have been seven teams to have gained success in the form of the premier play throughout the league’s history. Meanwhile, six teams have won the Grand Final. Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory have won the championship the most amount of times, as they have both won four Grand Finals. Sydney has won four premiers, while Melbourne has won three times. Sydney FC is also the most recent winner as they won both honours last season. In last year’s final, Sydney beat Perth Glory on penalties after being held to a 0-0 draw. Sydney is also the only team to have won consecutive Premiership title wins.
The other teams to have won a Grand Final are Brisbane Roar, Central Coast Mariners, Adelaide United, and the Newcastle Jets. The most recent side to have been crowned Grand Final winners for the first time was Adelaide United in 2016. The teams that have won the premier but never a Grand Final are the Western Sydney Warriors and Perth Glory.
There have been some famous Australian players to have played in the league throughout its history. Andrew Durante holds the record for the most amount of appearances made in the league, as he has played in the A-League since August 2006. Liam Reddy has played for the most amount of clubs, as he has played for seven throughout his history. During his career, he played for the Newcastle Jets, Brisbane Roar, Wellington Phoenix, Sydney FC, Central Coast Mariners, West Sydney Wanderers, and Perth Glory.
The youngest player to play in the A-League was Alusine Fofanah, while Brazilian legend Romario was the oldest as he played for Adelaide United against Newcastle Jets. No player has scored more goals than Besart Berisha in the A-League, as the Kosovo international scored 131 goals, which included a record five hat-tricks.