Liberty A-League to expand

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 2023TM.

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 has heralded the expansion.

“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,” Townsend said.

“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.”

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 11: Phoenix players celebrate victory during the round 11 A-League Women’s match between Canberra United and Wellington Phoenix at Viking Park, on February 11, 2022, in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

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.

“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,” PFA CEO Kate Gill said.

“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.”

This is the second expansion announcement in 12 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.