Despite the ongoing impact on travel and sport of border restrictions around Australia, the A-League has made some bold calls for the new season
The A-League has backed border restrictions to ease and fixtured games in all five states including Covid-riddled Victoria and NSW for a revised season start date of November 19.
After a few false starts due to the impact of Covid shutdowns around the country, reigning champions Melbourne City will kick off the new season against Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park.
Matches are fixtured for Melbourne, Geelong and Sydney in the opening round, despite both Victoria and NSW still battling large daily Covid numbers.
Victoria set a new record on Thursday with 766 Covid cases, the largest single daily number in the state’s history.
A Boxing Day derby at AAMI Park between Melbourne Victory and Western United is also part of the schedule.
Without a home ground yet built, United will also play two home games at Lakeside Stadium in Melbourne
Despite locking in a start date, however, fixtures have only been confirmed for the first six rounds of the new season, taking games to December 27. The Grand Final is set for May 28, 2022.
Games will be played around Australia, including Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide despite continued border restrictions.
In a statement from the Australian Professional Leagues, which runs the A-League, it said “more details about subsequent fixtures will be released later in the year, with border restrictions predicted to be eased by the turn of the year.”
Both the federal and state government’s national Covid-19 transition plan should help open borders, although West Australian premier Marc McGowan has suggested his state could remain shut until 2022.
The expanded W-League will also commence on December 3 with this season featuring the inaugural Club Championship, a trophy awarded to the clubs with the most success across both the men’s and women’s leagues.
“Football is back and we can‘t wait to get started,” Leagues Commissioner Greg O’Rourke said.
“We’ve got more football than ever before, with both an expanded finals series and the addition of Wellington Phoenix to the women’s league.
“We‘ve already seen some incredible young talent coming through the League and on to the Olympics, and with those players now more established, we are going to see even more great football stories.”