1995–96 National Soccer League
|League||National Soccer League|
|Number of teams||12|
|Top scorer||Damian Mori (31)|
The 1995–96 A-League season was the first year of a rebranded Australian National Soccer League (NSL) and the twentieth since the national league began in 1977. The competition was variously known as the A-League and the Ericsson Cup (as part of a sponsorship arrangement) at the time.
After an attempt to reduce the number of NSL teams from 14 to 12, the Australian Soccer Federation announced that a new competition known as the A-League would operate in parallel to the NSL. After a series of legal challenges, the A-League became the sole national league with largely the same composition of teams as the previous NSL season. The change was seen at the time as a rebranding rather than a new competition. Prior to the season beginning, the league announced a sponsorship agreement with Ericsson that was supposed to last until 2000. The sponsorship led to the league being renamed the Ericsson Cup, though the A-League and NSL names were still used in various forms.
The commencement of the season was delayed as relegated teams Melbourne SC and Heidelberg United obtained court injunctions to prevent the league going ahead. Eventually the injunction was lifted in the Federal Court of Australia to allow the league to start, albeit several weeks late.
The league was composed of 12 teams. After 33 rounds, Marconi-Fairfield were crowned minor premiers. In the final series, Marconi-Fairfield and the Melbourne Knights contested the 1996 A-League Grand Final, with Melbourne Knights prevailing 2–1.
||Qualification or relegation
|1||Marconi Fairfield||33||17||9||7||58||35||+23||60||1996 National Soccer League Finals|
|2||Melbourne Knights (C)||33||17||8||8||50||28||+22||59||1995–96 National Soccer League Champions|
|3||Sydney Olympic||33||17||8||8||55||41||+14||59||1996 National Soccer League Finals|
Rules for classification: 1) points; 2) goal difference; 3) number of goals scored.
|Semifinals Wk1||Semifinals Wk2||Preliminary final||Grand final|
|1||Marconi Fairfield||0||—||Marconi Fairfield||2 (2)||Melbourne Knights||2|
|2||Melbourne Knights||1||—||Melbourne Knights||2 (3)||Marconi Fairfield||1|
|3||Sydney Olympic||0 0 (0)||Adelaide City||1|
|5||Adelaide City||2 1 (3)|
|4||Brisbane Strikers||0 1 (1)|
|6||Sydney United||2 2 (4)|
26 May 1996
|Melbourne Knights||2 – 1||Marconi-Fairfield|
- Johnny Warren Medal: Damian Mori (Adelaide City)
- U-21 Player of the Year: Jim Tsekenis (West Adelaide)
- Top Scorer: Damian Mori (Adelaide City) – 31 goals
- Coach of the Year: John Perin (Adelaide City)
- Schwab, Laurie (6 August 1995). "New League Announced". The Age.
The federation would, in accordance with its articles of association, launch a new competition called the Soccer Australia A League, to kick off on 30 September.
- Cockerill, Michael (5 October 1995). "A-plus: Hill nets five-year sponsor". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
- Cockerill, Michael (5 September 1995). "Stalled A-League gets key support". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
- Cockerill, Michael (20 September 1995). "Court clears deck for A-teams". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
- Cockerill, Michael (1 October 1995). "A-League far from the big league". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
Following an exhaustive and acrimonious legal process in which the lawyers (as usual) were the only winners, a revamped national competition - to be known as the A-League - will kick-off next weekend.
- "4-1 win secures Marconi grand final spot". The Age. 19 May 1995. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
Minor premier Marconi will now meet defending champion Melbourne Knights in the grand final in Melbourne next Sunday in their fifth clash this season.
- Cockerill, Michael (26 May 1996). "It's two in a row for Knights". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
MELBOURNE KNIGHTS 2 (A Marth 58th A Cervinski 75th) bt MARCONI 1 (A Harper 80th). Referee: E Lennie. Crowd: 14,258 at Olympic Park. For once the game matched the occasion as the Melbourne Knights confirmed their favouritism with a stylish 2-1 win over Marconi-Fairfield in yesterday's A-League grand final.
- Schwab, Laurie (21 May 1996). "Mori tops soccer poll by record 186 votes". The Age. Retrieved 16 February 2015.