Australian Professional Leagues (APL) have today announced that the Liberty A-League Women’s competition will become a 12 team competition, with a full home and away schedule of 22 rounds by the 2023-24 season.
This investment brings the professional game in Australia in line with global standards for match minutes, and is part of a broader strategy to ensure a lasting legacy for the game following the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023.
– The Liberty A-League will grow from 10 to 12 teams over next two seasons
– Western United enter in 2022/23, Central Coast Mariners will join in 2023/24
– Number of rounds extended from 14 to 22 with full home and away schedule
– Number of regular season matches to grow from 70 to 132
– Number of regular season match minutes grows to global benchmark of 1980
“It is fantastic news that the Liberty A-League will expand with the addition of two new teams into the mix for 2023 and 2024,” Canberra United Head Coach Njegosh Popovich said.
“More games can only be good for the competition and the development of the players at all clubs, including our own. The promises of a full home and away schedule by 2023/24 with 22 games is an exciting prospect. We are certainly looking forward to playing our part.
“It’s of huge importance that we keep working towards a more professional league for women with the world cup being held here in 2023. The rest of the world is already investing heavily in female football land we must keep evolving, this expansion is a step in the right direction.
“To have eleven home matches as part of that full round of fixtures will be a massive boost to Canberra United in terms of being able to attract and retain players and to build a comprehensive team culture. This is not only a great opportunity for footballers to grow within extended round competition but also great opportunity for coaches and staff development within the game.”
Western United will officially join in season 2022-23 for a 20-round competition, and Central Coast Mariners have been given a provisional licence by APL and, subject to FA Board approval, will become the 12th team for 2023-24, taking the league to 22 rounds and a total of 132 matches.
A-Leagues CEO Danny Townsend said: “In the 18-months since we have been running the professional game in Australia, we will increase the number of regular season matches from 70 to 132, finally bringing Australia in line with global benchmarks and ensuring more opportunities for women to play at the highest level and for girls to benefit from the role models and expanded professional pathways this investment creates.”
“We are just 12-months out from the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and we want to make sure that every girl and woman in Australia has the opportunity to build and grow a lasting relationship with football, the country’s most participated in sport.”
The changes to the Liberty A-League follow close consultation with players and Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) and will lead to the minimum salary in the competition increasing by more than 50% over the next two years.
Kate Gill, CEO of PFA, said: “Today represents a significant step forward for women’s football in Australia that not only brings to life the players’ vision for a full home and away competition, but indicates the APL’s intent and belief in growing the women’s game.”
“Thanks to the genuine partnership with the APL, the players have played a central role in helping to design a competition that delivers meaningful employment, a professional career path and a strong and sustainable league that will develop the next generation of Australian talent.”
Liberty Chief Executive Officer James Boyle said the expansion of the Liberty A-League competition was welcome news that Liberty was proud to celebrate as naming rights sponsor.
“We’re passionate about championing women in sport and the growth of the Liberty A-
League helps to elevate the profile of women’s football. The more women role models in the professional sporting arena, such as the A-Leagues, the richer the opportunities for future generations. APL shares our pioneering spirit and culture of diversity as it continues to take strides towards creating a more inclusive sport. We are proud to share with the A-Leagues our passion – and action – for fostering gender equality on and off the field.”
Chief Operating Officer of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Jane Fernandez said:
“Huge congratulations to APL for this growth, and it really does follow the growth trajectory of women’s football right around the world.”
“This is a once in a generation opportunity. We are heading towards Qatar, where the Socceroos have just qualified to play. Then we move towards the expanded Liberty A-League, with the Grand Final to be held right on the eve of the expanded FIFA Women’s World Cup with, for the first time, 32 teams playing in the competition.”
“The benefits and the opportunities are huge, and it’s not just for the players, there are benefits also for those who want to volunteer, to coach and to be leaders in our game.”
This is the second expansion announcement in twelve months, following the addition of Wellington Phoenix’s women’s team in 2021. APL also signed an historic 5-year CBA last year, and launched the Club Championship trophy, designed to encourage better fan engagement with women’s football.
The expanded and extended 2022/23 Liberty A-League season kicks off on 18th November 2022*.
*Subject to confirmation in Football Australia’s Domestic Match Calendar