The Australian Professional Leagues have confirmed the kick-off dates for both the A-League and W-League.
After several weeks of speculation the APL, the organization which oversees the A-League and the W-League, have confirmed the start dates for both Australian domestic soccer competitions.
The opening round for the A-League will occur on Friday, November 19, 2021 while the W-League will start two weeks later on Friday, December 3, 2021.
At present the initial six founds of the A-League and the initial four rounds of the W-League have been released. The final currently scheduled matches will occur on the 27 of December, 2021. These opening rounds will be based on a conference system.
For the A-League Melbourne City, Melbourne Victory, Western United, Adelaide United, Perth Glory and Brisbane Roar will be in one conference and will play most of their games in Victoria.
The other conference will be made of the five NSW-based clubs, Macarthur FC, Western Sydney Wanderers, Central Coast Mariners, Sydney FC and the Newcastle Jets plus the Wellington Phoenix who will remain in NSW for the foreseeable future.
Wellington Phoenix have stated their temporary Australian home will remain until at least January 2022 due to the current COVID-19 restrictions.
The opening match for the A-League will occur on November 19, 2021 and will feature 2020-21 champions Melbourne City facing Brisbane Roar at home. With this start date the season is expected to be concluded with a men's Grand Final on May 28, 2022.
For the W-League the conferences will be composed of Melbourne City, Melbourne Victory, Canberra United, Adelaide United, Perth Glory and Brisbane Roar in one conference and the three NSW clubs Western Sydney Wanderers, Newcastle Jets and Sydney FC plus the Wellington Phoenix in the other conference.
The W-League will open on December 3, 2021, with champions Melbourne Victory hosting Adelaide United.
At present the subsequent fixture schedules for both leagues will be released later on in the year when more clarification with regards to border restrictions and COVID-19 protocols have emerged.
Speaking of the upcoming season and the current schedule APL Commissioner Greg O'Rourke stated in the A-League website's announcement:
“Our decision-making has as much as possible been anchored in the Federal Government’s four-stage roll-out for opening up, with increasing numbers of restrictions being relaxed as we hit 70% fully vaccinated, 80% and so on,” he said.
“That’s all publicly laid out, and we also have worked with our own contacts in various governments, and with the stadiums which are all own owned by the governments.
“Around six to eight weeks ago it became clear that we would need a conference system to navigate the first few weeks of the season, and we know that works because we successfully deployed it last season until the borders reopened.
“The dates we chose to start the seasons were driven by vaccination progress – by the time we kick off, most of the states should have 80% double vaccination rates or be very close, which on the basis of the national plan should see crowds start to return, borders become navigable and quarantine requirements mitigated.
“Of course we have contingency plans to deal with changing circumstances. But as things stand, having six teams based in NSW means they can play each other and so we can be confident that those games will go ahead.
“Meanwhile we have been able to schedule the bulk of games on the other side of the draw in Victoria, so then you are talking about almost the whole draw for the first few weeks not being dependent on the status of border openings.
“Putting players in hubs, or having to quarantine, has implications for player welfare and we’ve been able to minimise that based on the state governments’ various positions on reopening.
“Last season there were no vaccines and no safety net, and we staged a really successful season so as the country learns to live with COVID-19, I’m confident we will be able to do the same again.”
Both tournaments will be broadcast through the new deal with ViacomCBS Network 10 and Paramount+. This will include a new live A-League match, free-to-air on Network 10 every Saturday night as well as two Saturday night matches on Paramount+.