A-League Women (known as the Liberty A-League for sponsorship reasons), formerly the W-League, is the top-division women's soccer league in Australia. The W-League was established in 2008 by Football Australia (then known as Football Federation Australia) and was originally composed of eight teams of which seven had an affiliation with an existing A-League Men's club. As of the 2022–23 season, the league is contested by eleven teams.[2] The league, as well as the A-League Men and A-League Youth are administered by the Australian Professional Leagues.[3]

A-League Women
Founded25 October 2008; 15 years ago (25 October 2008)
First season2008–09
CountryAustralia (11 teams)
Other club(s) fromNew Zealand (1 team)
ConfederationAsian Football Confederation
Number of teams12
Level on pyramid1
International cup(s)AFC Women's Club Championship
Current championsSydney FC (4th title)
(2022–23)
Current premiersSydney FC (5th title)
(2022–23)
Most championshipsMelbourne City
Sydney FC
(4 titles)
Most premiershipsSydney FC (5 titles)
TV partners
Websitealeagues.com.au
Current: 2023–24 A-League Women

Seasons now run from November to April and include a 22-round regular season and an end-of-season finals series playoff tournament involving the highest-placed teams, culminating in a Grand Final match. The winner of the regular season tournament is dubbed 'premiers' and the winner of the grand final is dubbed 'champions'. Since the league's inaugural season, a total of five clubs have been crowned premiers and five clubs have been crowned champions. It has been currently running in a semi-professional basis, but talks about professionalisation has been emerging, beginning with the name change and placing of all women's clubs into one single Australian Professional Leagues operation and management in 2021, which served as the precursors for complete transition to professionalism of the A-League Women.[4][5]

Sydney FC are the current premiers, having won their fourth title; Melbourne Victory are the current champions, having won their third title.

History edit

Between 1996 and 2004 the Women's National Soccer League (WNSL) was Australia's top women's soccer league. In 2004 it was discontinued alongside the men's National Soccer League.

After Australia qualified for the quarter-finals of the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup, head coach Tom Sermanni felt the establishment of a professional league was vital for continuing the development of players.[6] Football Federation Australia established the league the following year.[7] The W-League was initially composed of eight teams: Adelaide United, Brisbane Roar, Central Coast Mariners, Melbourne Victory, Newcastle Jets, Perth Glory, and Sydney FC. Seven of the eight teams were affiliated with A-League clubs, and shared their names and colours to promote their brands. The eighth club was Canberra United.[8]

The W-League's inaugural season commenced on 25 October 2008, with Perth hosting Sydney at Members Equity Stadium.[9] After ten rounds, the regular season finished with Queensland Roar as the top-placed team, becoming the first W-League premiers, and advancing to the semi-finals along with the second-, third- and fourth-placed teams. Queensland faced Canberra in the 2009 W-League grand final, defeating them 2–0 to take the champions trophy.

Central Coast Mariners were forced to withdraw from the 2010–11 season due to a lack of funding,[10] but are scheduled to return in 2023–24.[11]

When Western Sydney Wanderers joined the A-League for the 2012–13 season, they also entered a team into the W-League, returning the competition to eight teams. From 2012 to 2014, the W-League champion team qualified into an international competition, the International Women's Club Championship.

On 13 May 2015, Melbourne City were confirmed to compete in the W-League from the 2015–16 season.[12] The club had a remarkable inaugural season, winning all 12 of its regular season games and winning the Grand Final.[13]

From the inception of the competition the league was run by Football Federation Australia, the governing body for the sport in Australia. In July 2019, the FFA relinquished operational control of the league to each of the clubs, now represented by the Australian Professional Leagues.[14]

The league commenced a further expansion program starting in 2021, with Wellington Phoenix commencing in the 2021–22 season,[15] Western United for the 2022–23 season,[16] and Central Coast Mariners for the 2023–24 season.[11] Future expansion is planned for the 2025–26 season, after the award of a licence for an Auckland-based team for both A-League Men and Women.[17]

Crowds have improved remarkably in 2023, on the back of the Matildas performance in the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup. The record A-League Women's crowd (including finals) was set on 14 October 2023, with the match between Sydney FC and the Western Sydney Wanderers drawing a crowd of 11,471.[18]

Competition format edit

The A-League Women regular season typically runs from November to April and consists of 20 games per team, with the highest ranked team winning the title of "Premier".[19] The top four teams in the regular season then advance to the single-game knockout semi-finals, with the Champion determined by the victor of the Grand Final.[20]

On 12 December 2022, the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) announced that the grand finals for the 2022–23 and two subsequent seasons would be hosted in Sydney,[21] a move which received considerable backlash.[22][23] On 18 October 2023, the APL announced that the Grand Final hosting rights would revert back to the original format, and instead a new "Unite Round" was introduced, with a regular season round having all its games played in Sydney.[24]

Clubs edit

Current clubs
Team Location Stadium Capacity Founded Joined Head coach Captain Highest
finish
Most recent
finish
Adelaide United Adelaide,
South Australia
ServiceFM Stadium
Coopers Stadium
7,000
17,000
2008 2008   Adrian Stenta   Isabel Hodgson 3rd 8th
Brisbane Roar Brisbane,
Queensland
Ballymore Stadium 8,000 2008 2008   Alex Smith   Ayesha Norrie 1st 9th
Canberra United Canberra, ACT McKellar Park 3,500 2008 2008   Njegosh Popovich   Michelle Heyman 1st 5th
Central Coast Mariners Gosford, New South Wales Central Coast Stadium 20,059 2008 2008
2023 (re-entry)
  Emily Husband   Taren King 2nd 2nd
Melbourne City Melbourne, Victoria Kingston Heath Soccer Complex
AAMI Park
3,300
30,050
2015 2015   Dario Vidošić (caretaker)   Rebekah Stott 1st 3rd
Melbourne Victory Melbourne, Victoria The Home of the Matildas
AAMI Park
3,000
30,050
2008 2008   Jeff Hopkins   Kayla Morrison 1st 4th
Newcastle Jets Newcastle,
New South Wales
Wanderers Oval
Adamstown Oval
McDonald Jones Stadium
2,000
2,000
33,000
2008 2008   Ryan Campbell (caretaker)   Cassidy Davis 2nd 10th
Perth Glory Perth,
Western Australia
Macedonia Park
HBF Park
7,000
20,500
2008 2008   Alexander Epakis   Natasha Rigby 1st 6th
Sydney FC Sydney,
New South Wales
Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Leichhardt Oval
Seymour Shaw Park
Cromer Park
20,500
20,000
5,000
5,000
2008 2008   Ante Juric   Natalie Tobin 1st 1st
Wellington Phoenix Wellington,
New Zealand
Sky Stadium
Jerry Collins Stadium
34,500
1,900
2021 2021   Paul Temple   Annalie Longo 10th 11th
Western Sydney Wanderers Sydney,
New South Wales
CommBank Stadium
Blacktown Football Park
Marconi Stadium
30,000
500
9,000
2012 2012   Robbie Hooker   Amy Harrison 3rd 7th
Western United Wyndham, Victoria GMHBA Stadium 36,000 2021 2022   Kat Smith   Jaclyn Sawicki
  Chloe Logarzo
2nd 2nd
Future clubs
Team Location Stadium Capacity Founded Joining
Auckland (name TBD) Auckland, New Zealand TBD TBD TBD 2025–26[25]

Performance record edit

Performance and ranking of clubs based on their best regular season result in the W-League and A-League Women. The 2022–23 season is Western United's first season.

Rank Club Best result 08–09 09 10–11 11–12 12–13 13–14 14 15–16 16–17 17–18 18–19 19–20 20–21 21–22 22–23
1 Sydney FC 1st (5 times) 4 1 1 3 4 2 4 3 3 2 3 3 1 1 1
2 Brisbane Roar 1st (3 times) 1 3 2 2 1 4 6 4 7 1 2 5 2 6 9
3 Canberra United 1st (3 times) 3 4 3 1 5 1 3 2 1 5 8 6 4 7 5
4 Melbourne City 1st (2 times) 1 4 4 5 1 7 2 3
5 Melbourne Victory 1st 5 5 4 4 3 3 2 9 9 7 1 2 3 4 4
6 Perth Glory 1st 7 6 5 6 2 5 1 8 2 6 4 7 9 5 6
7 Newcastle Jets 2nd 2 8 6 5 7 8 5 6 5 3 7 9 8 8 10
8 Central Coast Mariners 2nd 6 2
9 Western United 2nd 2
10 Adelaide United 3rd 8 7 7 7 8 6 7 5 6 9 6 8 5 3 8
11 Western Sydney Wanderers 3rd 6 7 8 7 8 8 9 3 6 9 7
12 Wellington Phoenix 10th 10 11

Organisation edit

Squad formation and salaries edit

An A-League Women squad is required to have a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 26 players.[citation needed] Players typically receive a one-season contract,[citation needed] with many playing in leagues in other countries during the A-League Women off-season. Due to the A-League Women season running during the off-season of several leagues around the world, many foreign players have played for teams in A-League Women and vice versa.

In 2015, teams in what was then the W-League had a salary cap of A$150,000.[26] Individual player salaries varied, with one player reporting to The Sydney Morning Herald in 2012 that whilst some players earn $10,000, others earn nothing.[27] In 2014, it was reported that Sydney FC players were paid salaries ranging from $1,000 to $6,000.[28] Players could also earn money playing overseas and may therefore be considered by Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) as professional.[29]

Some clubs are owned by their state soccer associations including Adelaide United and Newcastle Jets.[citation needed]

For the 2017–18 season a minimum salary was introduced at A$10,000. The average salary therefore rose from A$15,500 to A$17,400. A salary cap was set at A$300,000.[30]

The total salary floor, or minimum salary spend, for the 2020-21 season rose to A$294,000, growing to A$315,000 in the 2021-22 season, with a salary cap of A$450,000, as part of a five year deal that will see the salary floor rise to A$390,000 by 2025-26.[31] The deal also included improved standards in training venues, travel and accommodation, high performance staffing, and player workloads.[31] The A-League Women minimum annual wage in 2021 is A$17,055.[32]

Stadiums edit

A-League Women games have been played in 33 stadiums since the inaugural season of the A-League.

Broadcasting edit

The 2018–19 season marked the first time that fans were able to watch every W-League game. All matches were broadcast or streamed on Fox Sports, SBS Viceland and the My Football Live app. Thursday Night Football was also introduced, meaning 13 stand-alone regular season matches will be played in prime-time and broadcast live on Fox Sports.[33] The Football Federation Australia (FFA) reached a deal with ESPN+ for broadcast rights to W-League games in the United States. ESPN+ will carry at least 17 W-League matches in the 2018–19 season.[34] For the first time ever W-League games would be broadcast on YouTube and Twitter in territories without a traditional broadcast partner.[35]

In the 2019–20 season, ABC TV broadcast one game per weekend. Fourteen rounds of that season were broadcast at 4pm on Sundays, as well as the whole W-League 2020 Finals Series.[36] Fox Sport's contract with the A-League, which was renegotiated in June 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, concluded in July 2021.[37]

From July 2019 to the end of the 2020–21 season, Foxtel broadcast all matches with ABC broadcasting one match per round live on its primary channel.[38]

Since August 2021, as part of a five-year deal with ViacomCBS, the A-Leagues have been broadcast by Network 10 and Paramount+ (Australia) streaming service.[39][40] As of the 2022–23 season, Paramount and Network 10's free-to-access streaming service 10Play stream all matches.[41]

In New Zealand, A-League Men and A-League Women matches are broadcast on Sky Sport / beIN Sports.

Current broadcasters edit

Territory Network
  Australia Network 10
Paramount+
  New Zealand Sky Open
Sky Sport
Pacific Islands Australia TV
Pasifika TV
International Sport24 (in-flight and ship only)
YouTube (unsold markets only)
Asia SPOTV
  Ireland TNT Sports
  United Kingdom

Referees edit

A-League Women features female referees and assistant referees from Australia. Notable referees include:

Honours edit

W-League and A-League Women winners
Season Premiers (regular season winners) Champions (Grand Final winners)
2008–09 Queensland Roar[a] Queensland Roar
2009 Sydney FC Sydney FC
2010–11 Sydney FC Brisbane Roar
2011–12 Canberra United Canberra United
2012–13 Brisbane Roar Sydney FC
2013–14 Canberra United Melbourne Victory
2014 Perth Glory Canberra United
2015–16 Melbourne City Melbourne City
2016–17 Canberra United Melbourne City
2017–18 Brisbane Roar Melbourne City
2018–19 Melbourne Victory Sydney FC
2019–20 Melbourne City Melbourne City
2020–21 Sydney FC Melbourne Victory
2021–22 Sydney FC Melbourne Victory
2022–23 Sydney FC Sydney FC

Records edit

Most appearances edit

As of 11 February 2024.[43]

Players listed in bold are still actively playing in the A-League Women.

Rank Player Appearances
1   Michelle Heyman 174
2   Kim Carroll 158
3   Teresa Polias 157
4   Tameka Yallop 154
5   Clare Polkinghorne 152
6   Caitlin Cooper 151
  Gema Simon
8   Ellie Brush 145
  Emma Checker
10   Cassidy Davis 144

Top scorers edit

As of 11 February 2024.[44]

Players listed in bold are still actively playing in the A-League Women.

Rank Player Goals
1   Michelle Heyman 105
2   Samantha Kerr 70
3   Tameka Yallop 61
4   Kyah Simon 50
5   Emily Gielnik 48
6   Tara Andrews 45
  Leena Khamis
8   Ashleigh Sykes 44
9   Lisa De Vanna 42
  Kate Gill

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ Queensland Roar changed their name to Brisbane Roar for the 2009 season onwards.

References edit

  1. ^ "Our International Broadcasters – KEEPUP". Archived from the original on 16 November 2021. Retrieved 27 February 2023.
  2. ^ "'A special day': Western United to join A-League Women next season". ABC News. 12 May 2022. Archived from the original on 22 March 2023. Retrieved 1 April 2023.
  3. ^ Official site Archived 30 September 2021 at the Wayback Machine on 30 September 2021. Retrieved 3 October 2021.
  4. ^ "W-League name scrapped as Australian soccer rebrands under A-Leagues banner". SportsPro. 29 September 2021. Archived from the original on 29 September 2021. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
  5. ^ "History of Women's Football in Australia". Football Australia. 23 September 2021. Archived from the original on 7 August 2022. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  6. ^ Grainey, Tim (26 November 2013). "Grainey: A closer look at the Westfield W-League". Equalizer Soccer. Archived from the original on 28 March 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  7. ^ "Women in a league of their own". Football Federation Australia. 28 July 2008. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 28 July 2008.
  8. ^ "W-League to debut in October". Fox Sports. 28 July 2008. Archived from the original on 6 August 2008. Retrieved 28 July 2008.
  9. ^ "Girls shop to the top". FourFourTwo. 28 July 2008. Archived from the original on 3 September 2008. Retrieved 28 July 2008.
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  11. ^ a b "Central Coast Mariners confirm first signing after officially being accepted into Liberty A-League women's competition". Central Coast Mariners. 17 October 2022. Archived from the original on 24 March 2023. Retrieved 20 March 2023.
  12. ^ Hytner, Mike (13 May 2015). "Melbourne City FC to field a W-League side next season". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 4 April 2016. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  13. ^ "Melbourne City crown perfect season with W-League grand final win over Sydney FC". The Age. 31 January 2016. Archived from the original on 1 April 2023. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  14. ^ "FFA reaches in principle agreement for independent A-League". The Roar. 2 July 2019. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  15. ^ Andrew Voerman (10 September 2021). "Wellington Phoenix to field women's team in W-League with quota of Australian players". stuff.co.nz. Archived from the original on 12 September 2021. Retrieved 12 September 2021.
  16. ^ "We're In! Western United to join W-League". Western United. 3 September 2021. Archived from the original on 20 September 2021. Retrieved 7 October 2021.
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  29. ^ Scanlon, Jill (20 October 2015). "The W-League Will Be Looking To Follow The Matildas Pay Deal Path". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 25 August 2016. Retrieved 9 November 2015. While this is not a full-time professional workload wage, the women can also earn money playing overseas and are therefore considered by the PFA to be categorised as professional.
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  31. ^ a b "Salary cap changes, pay boost for W-League, A-League players". thewomensgame.com. 9 September 2021. Archived from the original on 29 December 2021. Retrieved 29 December 2021.
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  38. ^ "ABC strikes deal with FFA to become free-to-air home of football in Australia". ABC News. 3 October 2019. Archived from the original on 5 October 2019. Retrieved 5 October 2019.
  39. ^ "A-League announces Channel 10 as new broadcast partner in five-year deal". ABC News (Australia). 26 May 2021. Archived from the original on 28 May 2021. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  40. ^ "Network 10 and Paramount+ to deliver double the football action on Saturday nights". A-League. 27 September 2021. Archived from the original on 6 October 2021. Retrieved 6 October 2021.
  41. ^ "10 Bold, Paramount+ home of 2022–23 A-League". TV Tonight. 7 October 2022. Archived from the original on 29 September 2022. Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  42. ^ "Kate Jacewicz to referee the Westfield W-League 2019 Grand Final". Football Federation Australia. 13 February 2019. Archived from the original on 13 February 2019. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  43. ^ "Australia W-League Women All-time appearances 1–50". worldfootball.net. Archived from the original on 3 October 2021. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  44. ^ "Women A-League Women - All-time Topscorers". Archived from the original on 18 March 2023. Retrieved 18 March 2023.

External links edit