The draw for the 2019/20 W-League season still hasn’t been released, with less than a month before an expected kick-off in mid-November.
The 2018/19 draw from last season’s W-League competition was released on the September 5, 2018.
That means that even with the draw likely to be released later this week, this season's is a whopping six weeks later than last year’s was confirmed.
But the FFA say there are two main reasons to blame for the delayed publication of the draw.
- The FIFA Women’s World Cup pushing back the end date of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL)
- Free-to-air broadcasting agreements still being finalised and operational considerations which affect match broadcasting schedules
For those asking about the #WLeague fixtures for 2019/20, we’re looking to release in the next 2 weeks!— Westfield W-League (@WLeague) October 9, 2019
Broadcast arrangements & venue availability have impacted an earlier release, but we’ll have some more info soon.
The problem is, the draw being released so close to Round 1 doesn’t allow for much planning from W-League coaches and staff.
Coaches need to work out periodisation and training schedules, which is difficult with such short notice. It’s not just training plans that need to be accounted for either; clubs have to organise travel and accommodation arrangements for away games too.
Despite facing the same broadcast negotiation problems, the A-League draw was released two and a half months ago at the beginning of August, with the A-League now into the opening round.
But the FFA insist they apply the same care to the W-League as they do with the top men’s tier.
“We of course had hoped it would be released sooner, however, it is important we treat the scheduling with the same level of care, thoroughness and detailed process as we do in the context of the Hyundai A-League," said a spokesman.
Sydney FC captain and experienced midfielder Teresa Polias said that this season is very different to previous years of the league, with a delayed start of the competition and a shorter pre-season.
“It will be a pretty short and compact pre-season, so we’ll all have to come in ready. Our pre-season is more than halved of previous seasons, so it’s going to be a real challenge for us," she admitted.
“(At Sydney) we’ve got a really good coaching set-up and they know what they’re doing, but I think it’s just a matter of us as players coming in and being ready to fire.”
The later start means that the W-League Grand Final (scheduled for March, 2020) will likely overlap with the beginning of the NWSL pre-season, meaning any players who are involved in both competitions will be heading to the United States later than in previous years.
The FFA says the decision to start the W-League on November 14 was made with the best interests of the Westfield W-League, players and clubs at the forefront.
“We made a decision in collaboration with the clubs and the Professional Women’s Football Committee* to start the season after the NWSL grand final is completed," said the spokesman.
"This is after the FIFA international window, given the large number of players which move between the NWSL and the W-League, and that the Matildas would have commitments in the FIFA international window.”
*The Professional Women’s Football Committee has representatives from FFA, Westfield W-League Clubs, the PFA and players.