|Other club(s) from||New Zealand|
|Number of teams||10|
|Levels on pyramid||1|
|International cup(s)||AFC Champions League|
|Current champions||Central Coast Mariners
|Most championships||Brisbane Roar
Sydney FC (2 titles)
|Current premiers||Western Sydney Wanderers
|Most premiers||Central Coast Mariners
Melbourne Victory (2 titles)
|TV partners||Fox Sports
The A-League (known as the Hyundai A-League for sponsorship purposes) is the highest level association football league in Australia. Administered by Football Federation Australia, the competition was founded as a successor to the National Soccer League (1977–2004). In August 2005 the A-League's inaugural season began. The league is currently contested by ten teams; nine in Australia and one from New Zealand. Related leagues include the National Youth League and women's W-League.
A national round-robin tournament existed in various forms prior to the formation of the A-League. The most notable, the National Soccer League (NSL), was first proposed in 1965, though did not come to fruition due to opposition from clubs who deemed the notion uneconomical, and state federations who feared losing their power. Australia's qualification for the 1974 World Cup led to further discussions of a national league, with 14 teams being chosen to participate in the inaugural season of the NSL in 1977.
Overseen by Soccer Australia, the NSL flourished through the 1980s and early 1990s, though with the departure of Australian players to overseas leagues increasing, a disastrous television deal with the Seven Network, and with the consequent lack of sponsorship, the league plummeted into decline. Few clubs continued to grow with Sydney Olympic, Perth Glory, and the newly established Adelaide United the exception in a dying league.
In April 2003, the Australian Federal Government initiated the Crawford Report, with the Australian Independent Soccer Review Committee to investigate the governance and management of football, including that of the NSL, in Australia. In October 2003, after the Crawford Report found the NSL was financially unviable, the new Soccer Australian chairman Frank Lowy announced that a task force would be formed to create a new national competition as a successor to the NSL which would dissolve after the conclusion of the 2003–04 season in 2004 after 27 years of operation.
The A-League was established in 2004 as a successor to the National Soccer League (NSL). Eight teams would be part of this new national competition, with one team from each city of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Newcastle, plus a New Zealand team and one from the remaining expressions of interest. The competition start date was set for August 2005.
By June 2004, 20 submissions had been received and a month later 12 consortiums sent in their final bids for the eight spots. Three bids were received from Melbourne, two each from Sydney and Brisbane, one from each of the remaining preferred cities and a bid from the New South Wales Central Coast city of Gosford. Over the next three months, each bid was reviewed and on 1 November 2004, the eight successful bidders and the major sponsor were revealed, for what would be known as the Hyundai A-League, with the Hyundai Motor Company unveiled as the official naming rights sponsor for the league.
The eight successful teams were Adelaide United, Central Coast Mariners, Melbourne Victory, Newcastle Jets, New Zealand Knights, Perth Glory, Queensland Roar and Sydney FC, with five NSL clubs taking part, those being the Perth Glory, Adelaide United, Newcastle Jets, Queensland Roar (who had participated in the NSL under the name Brisbane Lions), and New Zealand Knights (who had participated in the NSL under the name New Zealand Football Kingz). A 5-year city exclusivity deal was ensured to each club as part of the 'one-city, one-team' philosophy to allow clubs to develop an identity in their region.
Competition format 
Regular season 
The regular season runs mainly during the Australian summer, from early October to March of the following year. The competition consists of 27 matches over 25 weeks, with each team playing every other team three times. The teams allotted two home matches against an opponent in one season are allotted one home match against that opponent in the following season. Each match sees the winning team awarded three competition points, with one point each for a draw. The club at the top of this ladder is crowned A-League Premiers, and as of the 2006–07 season, will be entered into the AFC Champions League.
At the completion of the regular season teams are ranked from one to ten with the top six teams progressing to the finals series. The position of each team is determined by the highest number of points accumulated during the Regular Season. If two or more teams are level on points, the following criteria are applied in order until one of the teams can be determined as the higher ranked:
- Highest goal difference;
- Highest number of goals scored;
- Highest number of points accumulated in matches between the teams concerned;
- Highest goal difference in matches between the teams concerned;
- Highest number of goals scored in matches between the teams concerned;
- Lowest number of red cards accumulated;
- Lowest number of yellow cards accumulated;
- Toss of a coin.
Finals series 
The A-League Finals Series is a playoff tournament that runs after the conclusion of the regular season. Recently the competition has consisted of 6 teams (previously 4) who are placed by rank, as determined at the end of the regular season. The competition runs in 3 stages, with each match winner progressing to the next stage, eventually leading to the Grand Final between the 2 remaining teams. The winner of the Grand Final is crowned champions and will receive a spot in the AFC Champions League.
Continental qualification 
In 2004–2005 Australia was still a part of the Oceania Football Confederation and Sydney FC won the right to compete in the Oceania Club Championship after defeating the Central Coast Mariners in a qualifying tournament. It has been suggested that the Wellington Phoenix should compete in the OFC Champions League after 2011, as the club will no longer be eligible for AFC Champions League football.
A-League clubs are eligible for participation in the AFC Champions League competition each season since the 2007 competition. These teams were determined by finishing positions in the 2005–06 A-League season, the 2008 competition by finishing positions in the 2006–07 season, and so on. The amount of qualification slots and their nature as direct entry to the group stage or a qualification play-off varies based on what the AFC determines for each nation in the competition for that season. Until 2012 for most seasons there were two direct entry positions. Originally the first qualification slot was given to the minor premier winning club, with the second to the Grand Final winning club. Due to the dates of the respective competitions, an entire season passes before clubs compete. For example, Newcastle Jets competed in the 2009 Champions League, even though they finished last in the 2008–09 A-League season.
In 2012 the AFC revised the Qualification process, with A-league spots being reduced from 2.5 to 1.5. The AFC cited lack of a second division, stadia and that the league was not a separate entity to the FFA. For the 2013 Asian Champions League, the Premiers (team who finishes top of the ladder) will receive direct entry into the competition. The Champions (Grand Final winners) will enter a play off against another Asian Club for qualification.
Youth league 
In 2008 a national youth league was set up in conjunction with the A-League in order to continue to blood young Australian talent into the league as well as into the Australian national team and its affiliates such as the under 17, under 20 and under 23 teams. The league's inaugural season was made up of seven teams, each linked to the corresponding Australian club in the A-League (excluding Wellington Phoenix) and had strong links to players training at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS). Some changes were implemented for the 2009–10 season, including the addition of the Gold Coast United and a team from the AIS. Wellington Phoenix does not have a team in the youth league.
There are nine clubs from Australia and one from New Zealand in the A-League. Only four of these clubs, Adelaide United, Brisbane Roar (as Queensland Roar), Newcastle Jets, and Perth Glory, existed before the A-League was formed.
Unlike most European leagues, there is no system for promotion and relegation of teams nor a national knockout cup competition along the lines of the FA Cup. The A-League system thus shares some franchising elements with most other professional leagues in Australia, Major League Soccer and other major American-based sports leagues.
On 1 March 2011 the FFA officially announced that the licence held by franchise North Queensland Fury had been revoked for financial reasons. On 29 February 2012, Gold Coast United also had its licence revoked.
|Current A-League Clubs|
|Adelaide United||Adelaide, SA||Hindmarsh Stadium||2003||2005||Josep Gombau||Eugene Galeković|
|Brisbane Roar||Brisbane, QLD||Suncorp Stadium||1957||2005||Mike Mulvey||Matt Smith|
|Central Coast Mariners||Gosford, NSW||Bluetongue Stadium||2004||2005||Graham Arnold||John Hutchinson|
|Melbourne Heart||Melbourne, VIC||AAMI Park||2008||2010||John Aloisi||Vacant|
|Melbourne Victory||Melbourne, VIC||AAMI Park & Etihad Stadium||2004||2005||Ange Postecoglou||Adrian Leijer|
|Newcastle Jets||Newcastle, NSW||Hunter Stadium||2000||2005||Gary van Egmond||Ruben Zadkovich|
|Perth Glory||Perth, WA||NIB Stadium||1995||2005||Alistair Edwards||Jacob Burns|
|Sydney FC||Sydney, NSW||Allianz Stadium||2004||2005||Frank Farina||Terry McFlynn|
|Wellington Phoenix||Wellington, NZ||Westpac Stadium||2007||2007||Ernie Merrick||Andrew Durante|
|Western Sydney Wanderers||Sydney, NSW||Parramatta Stadium||2012||2012||Tony Popovic||Michael Beauchamp|
|Team||Location||Stadium||Founded||Joined||Dissolved||Last Head Coach||Last Captain|
|Gold Coast United||Gold Coast, QLD||Skilled Park||2008||2009||2012||Mike Mulvey||Michael Thwaite|
|New Zealand Knights||Auckland, NZ||North Harbour Stadium||1998||2005||2007||Ricki Herbert||Darren Bazeley|
|North Queensland Fury||Townsville, QLD||Dairy Farmers Stadium||2008||2009||2011||František Straka||Ufuk Talay|
While making a relatively modest start in order to ensure future stability, both Football Federation Australia and the media have indicated significant interest in expanding the league. The eight foundation clubs had exclusivity clauses for their respective cities valid for five years, but this does not exclude teams from other areas. Some have questioned the logic in expanding the league so soon as many clubs are struggling to stay afloat and think by expanding they are only diluting the playing talent even further.
Before the introduction of the A-League, FFA chairman Frank Lowy speculated that he hoped to expand the league into other cities, mentioning Canberra, Hobart, Wollongong, Geelong, Bendigo, Cairns, Ballarat, Albury, Wodonga, Launceston, Christchurch, Auckland, Sunshine Coast and possibly Darwin and later Singapore.
While there are only three local derbies in the A-league, many 'rivalries' have formed. These include:
"The Big Blue" - Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC
The clash between Australia's two biggest cities is considered one of the biggest rivalries in the league by both sets of fans. Sydney and Melbourne have been historical rivals for over a century, and their football teams are no exception. These contests are often full of spite and controversy on and off the pitch.
"The Cross Border Rivalry" - Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory
Contested the 2006–07 and 2008–09 A-League Grand Finals, in which Melbourne won 6–0 and 1–0 respectively. The rivalry stems from the traditional rivalry between sporting teams from Victoria and South Australia but was strengthened by incidents in the 2006–07 season, such as the confrontation between Melbourne Victory captain Kevin Muscat and then Adelaide United coach John Kosmina.
"The F3 Derby" - Newcastle Jets v Central Coast Mariners
Labelled by commentators, the two regional clubs, only an hour apart, are also big rivals. The derby was intensified when the two teams played each other in the 2008 Finals series and eventually met in the Grand Final, which was won 1–0 by the Jets.
"Melbourne Derby" - Melbourne Heart v Melbourne Victory
The two teams first met on 8 October 2010 in a lively game at AAMI Park in front of 25,897 fans. Melbourne Heart came out on top with a 2–1 victory. Although the crowd was dominated by Victory fans, the Heart fans made their presence known. Aziz Behich was sent off after receiving two yellow cards. The rivalry is one of the most intense and well respected in the A-league, producing noticeable atmosphere and the largest crowds in the league, along with controversy with 11 goals and 2 reds cards in the first three games.
"Sydney Derby" - Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers
The Sydney derby between Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers FC was contested for the first time in the 2012–13 season with the introduction of the Western Sydney Wanderers FC. Sydney FC grabbed bragging rights by winning the first derby 1–0 at Parramatta Stadium, however Western Sydney Wanderers won the return match at Allianz Stadium 2–0. The Sydney Derby is intensified by the geographic distinction between the two clubs within Sydney, as well as historical grievances related to the foundation of Sydney FC.
Supporters Groups 
|Adelaide United||Red Army|||
|Brisbane Roar||The Den|||
|River City Collective (RCC)|||
|Central Coast Mariners||Marinators|||
|Gold Coast United (defunct)||The Beach|||
|Melbourne Victory||Blue and White Brigade (BWB)|||
|Southern Death Crew (SDC)|||
|May 7 Crew (M7C)|||
|Newcastle Jets||The Squadron|||
|New Zealand Knights (defunct)||Bloc5|||
|North Queensland Fury (defunct)||F-Troop|||
|Perth Glory||Glory Shed Supporters Club (GSSC)|||
|Glory Fans United (GFU)|||
|Sydney FC||The Cove|||
|Wellington Phoenix||Yellow Fever|||
|Western Sydney Wanderers||Red & Black Bloc (RBB)|||
|Corner Post Crew|||
The A-League logo, designed by Coast Design Sydney, is a three-dimensional sphere. The two-toned ochre colours represent the sun, earth and desert while the 'glow' emanating from the centre of the logo depicts the playing season's spring and summer time span. The eight 'A' figures that make up the ball shape represent the eight foundation clubs.
The A-League has been promoted using a number of different advertising slogans and strategies since its inception. At the start of the inaugural season, a A$3 million dollar advertising campaign was launched, with the television and film advertisements produced by Ridley Scott's production company. The theme for the campaign was: "Football, but not as you know it". A new television advertisement was created for the start of the 2007–08 season, which debuted on Foxtel's program Total Football. It was filmed at Bob Jane Stadium in Melbourne. Other campaigns include the "90 minutes, 90 emotions". which was used for two seasons from 2007–09 and was accompanied by the music track "My People" from Australian act The Presets.
The A-League has been featured in the FIFA series by EA SPORTS since the 2008 edition of the game, as well as the Football Manager series by SI Games and the Championship Manager series by Beautiful Game Studios.
From the start of the inaugural 2005–06 season to the 2012–13 season, TV coverage within Australia has been restricted to the subscription-only Fox Sports channel, to which only 7% of Australian residents have. These exclusive rights preventing A-League games, as well as Socceroos matches from free-to-air viewing saw much opposition, limiting the growth of the league and the reach of football in Australia.
On 19 November 2012, free-to-air Australian public broadcasting television network SBS secured shared rights, alongside long-time A-League broadcasters Fox Sport, to the A-League form the 2013–14 season with a $160 million four-year broadcast deal. In addition SBS will also broadcast Socceroos matches.
Current broadcasters carrying the A-League include:
|Australia||Fox Sports, SBS|
|New Zealand||SKY Sport|
|Canada||Fox Sports World|
|Hong Kong||Cable TV Hong Kong|
|United Kingdom||Sky Sports|
|United States||Fox Soccer Channel|
The A-League also features some of Australia and New Zealand's top match officials. Referees include:
|Chris Beath||Queensland||FIFA listed|
|Strebre Delovski||New South Wales||FIFA listed, AFC Elite Panel|
|Jarred Gillett||Queensland||FIFA listed|
|Peter Green||Queensland||FIFA listed, AFC Elite Panel|
|Kris Griffiths-Jones||New South Wales|
|Tim McGilchrist||New South Wales|
|Peter O'Leary||New Zealand||FIFA listed|
|Regis Queffelec||South Australia|
|Ben Williams||Australian Capital Territory||FIFA listed, AFC Elite Panel|
A-League football has been played in 27 stadia since the inaugural season of the A-League in 2005. Hindmarsh Stadium, the home of Adelaide United, is currently the only football-specific stadium used in the A-League. Docklands Stadium, home of Melbourne Victory, has the greatest seating capacity (53,359) of any stadium used by an A-League club, although it is only the third biggest stadium in Australia by capacity.
Stadium attendances are a significant source of regular income for the A-League and its clubs. The average and total attendances are listed below.
Bold denotes clubs highest A-League season attendance.
Bold denotes highest A-League season attendance.
Squad formation and salary cap 
Since the inaugural season of the A-League in 2005–06, just fourteen players are allowed to be named in the starting line-ups for the teams.
An A-League squad must have between 20 and 23 players, with a maximum of 5 players from outside Australia (and New Zealand, in the case of Wellington Phoenix). The squad must also include at least three under-20 players.
Foreign players 
Current Foreign players in the A-League include:
|Club||Visa 1||Visa 2||Visa 3||Visa 4||Visa 5||Non-Visa Foreign|
|Adelaide United||Jerónimo Neumann||Marcelo Carrusca||Fábio Ferreira||None||None||Cássio1|
|Brisbane Roar||Besart Berisha||Henrique||Thomas Broich||Do Dong-Hyun||None||None|
|Central Coast Mariners||Michael McGlinchey||Nick Montgomery||None||None||None||John Hutchinson2|
|Melbourne Heart||Jonatan Germano||Patrick Gerhardt||None||None||None||None|
|Melbourne Victory||Marcos Flores||Guilherme Finkler||Jonathan Bru||None||None||Adama Traore|
|Newcastle Jets||Emile Heskey||Michael Bridges||None||None||None||None|
|Perth Glory||Steven McGarry||None||None||None||None||Shane Smeltz2|
|Sydney FC||Alessandro Del Piero||Pascal Bosschaart||None||None||None|| Ali Abbas1
|Wellington Phoenix||Paul Ifill||Stein Huysegems||Carlos Hernandez||Benjamin Totori||None||Manny Muscat2|
|Western Sydney Wanderers||Mateo Poljak||Jérome Polenz||Iacopo La Rocca||Youssouf Hersi||Shinji Ono||None|
The following do not fill a Visa position:
1Those players who were born and started their professional career abroad but have since gained Australian Residency (and New Zealand Residency, in the case of Wellington Phoenix);
2Australian residents (and New Zealand residents, in the case of Wellington Phoenix) who have chosen to represent another national team;
3Injury Replacement Players;
4Guest Players (eligible to play a maximum of ten games)
5Additional Expansion Club Visa Player
Marquee player 
The league allows each team to have one "marquee" player whose salary is exempt from the salary cap. Notable marquee players in the A-League have included Dwight Yorke and Alessandro Del Piero, who signed for Sydney FC, on a two-year four million dollar deal, beginning in the 2012–13 season. Since the 2008–09 season, A-League clubs have been permitted a Junior Marquee player; one that is under the age of 23. The Junior Marquee can be paid up to A$150,000 above the salary cap. On 19 April 2010, the A-League announced that, in addition to the marquee and junior marquee, clubs would be allowed an Australian marquee player from the 2010–11 season. Current Marquee players in the A-League include:
|Club||Australian Marquee||International Marquee||Junior Marquee player||Captain||Vice-Captain|
|Adelaide United||Dario Vidošić||None||None||Eugene Galeković||Cássio|
|Brisbane Roar||None||Thomas Broich||None||Matt Smith||Shane Stefanutto|
|Central Coast Mariners||None||None||None||John Hutchinson||Michael McGlinchey|
|Melbourne Victory||Archie Thompson||Marcos Flores||None||Adrian Leijer||Archie Thompson|
|Newcastle Jets||None||Emile Heskey||None||Ruben Zadkovich||TBA|
|Perth Glory||None||Shane Smeltz||None||Jacob Burns||Travis Dodd|
|Sydney FC||Brett Emerton||Alessandro Del Piero||None||Terry McFlynn||Brett Emerton|
|Wellington Phoenix||None||None||None||Andrew Durante||Ben Sigmund|
|Western Sydney Wanderers||None||Shinji Ono||None||Michael Beauchamp||Nikolai Topor-Stanley|
Honours and records 
Performance by club 
|2||Melbourne Victory||2007, 2009|
|Central Coast Mariners||2008, 2012|
|Western Sydney Wanderers||2013|
Bold denotes club still competing in the A-League.
Performance by player 
Matt Thompson, who has played for Newcastle Jets (2005–2010) and Melbourne Heart (2010–present), holds the record for number of A-League appearances. Shane Smeltz, who has played for Wellington Phoenix FC (2007–2009), Gold Coast United (2009–2011) and Perth Glory (2011–present), holds the record for number of A-League goals.
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