After some deliberation, the FFA finally released its long awaited 2019-20 Hyundai A-League season draw on Thursday in what is a transition season for the A-League competition.
The expansion of the competition to 11 teams with the addition of Western United posed some decisions for the FFA regarding the length of the season.
Instead of lengthening the season from 27 to 30 rounds, in which each team plays each other three times as in previous seasons, the FFA has opted to limit the season to a 29 round season with each team playing a slightly reduced number of games – 26 instead of 27.
Each team will play six of the other teams three times over the course of the season, and the remaining four teams twice, thus totalling 26 matches for each team.
The addition of an 11th team means that for one team each round there will be a bye so that each team will have three byes over the course of the season, in addition to the 26 matches played, thus making for a 29 round season.
This way the A-League believes it will maintain the frequency of each of the big derby and marquee matches to the same number as previous seasons (three) without blowing out the length of the campaign.
The other challenge with the scheduling was to arrive at a fair and equitable way of distributing the marquee matches amongst the clubs without compromising the integrity of the competition whereby some teams were favoured by only having to play stronger teams twice.
Other changes introduced include earlier kick off times in a bid to make the matches more family friendly for local fans attending the games.
“The question was about how, how is it best to be fair and equitable? There were a lot of conversations about how to do that, bench marking from other codes. What we said was we’ll have opponent match-up weightings (combined with) marquee games without making it too lopsided,” said FFA Head of Leagues Greg O’Rourke. stor
The A-League is hoping that the arrival of the newest team Western United and the return of Western Sydney Wanderers to its Parramatta base at the new Bankwest Stadium will be a boost to the competition.
The opening round of the season scheduled to kick off in just over two months, begins with a Friday evening clash which carries its own rivalry, last season’s FFA Cup finalists Adelaide United and Sydney FC. The following evening Melbourne Victory hosts Melbourne City with two new coaches at the helm. Also featuring in the opening round, is the debut of Western United, which flies to New Zealand to take on coach Mark Rudan’s former club Wellington Phoenix.