The countdown is on to the return of the best of Australian club football to stadiums across the country, with confirmation of the start dates of the new W-League and A-League seasons.
The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) today confirmed that the A-League will kick off on November 19 and the W-League on December 3, heralding a new era for both competitions on the game’s new home on Network 10 and Paramount+.
Featuring a host of players who featured at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the men’s season will begin with champions Melbourne City FC hosting Brisbane Roar and also feature a hotly contested derby between Western Sydney Wanderers FC and Sydney FC in the opening round.
The women’s league commences with Wellington Phoenix’s historic first game in the competition, taking on the Wanderers in the first of a series of doubleheaders, while champions Melbourne Victory will round out the opening weekend at home to Adelaide United.
The first six rounds of the A-League, and the first four of the W-League, will be based on a conference system. The five NSW-based clubs plus both of Wellington Phoenix’s teams will play each other in one half of the split, while the majority of the other games will be played in Victoria.
More details about subsequent fixtures will be released later in the year, with border restrictions predicted to be eased by the turn of the year under the Federal Government’s national COVID-19 transition plan.
The new seasons feature the first domestic football on Network 10 and Paramount+ as the multi-year agreement to show both leagues, the Socceroos and Commonwealth Bank Matildas and the FFA Cup gets into its stride.
This season will also feature the inaugural Club Championship, a trophy awarded to the clubs with the most success across both the men’s and women’s leagues.
"Football is back and we can't wait to get started,” said Leagues Commissioner Greg O’Rourke. “We've got more football than ever before, with both an expanded finals series and the addition of Wellington Phoenix to the women's league.
“We've already seen some incredible young talent coming through the League and on to the Olympics, and with those players now more established, we are going to see even more great football stories.
"Importantly, together with Network 10, we're going to be able to bring fans closer to the action than ever before as we enter a new era for football in Australia."
Adam Cush, Network 10's Director of Sport Production, said: "10 ViacomCBS is excited to partner with the APL to bring an innovative fans first approach to broadcasting live football in Australia on free-to-air television and our brand new streaming service Paramount+."
With the season start dates having been adjusted to reflect the evolving landscape of COVID-19 restrictions, the club football season will finish with the men's Grand Final scheduled for May 28.
Download the draw for Rounds 1-4 of the W-League here