As the popularity of domestic football began to grow in Australia, the AFC decided to reinvent the top flight of the club game in the country by launching the A-League in 2004 to replace the National Soccer League. The hope was that the A-League would bring in new fans, players, sponsors and interest. Indeed since that inaugural season in 2005-2006, the A-League has indeed been a success.
Currently, 10 teams compete in the league, 9 from Australia and 1 from New Zealand, and season on season attendance and TV viewers have continued to rise. As well as producing domestic stars the A-League has attracted a range of footballing legends from around the world to ply their trade in the division.
To add excitement up until the final moments, the league involves a total of 27 rounds culminating in a play-off to crown the league champions. Whole cities come to a standstill when their team is involved in the A-League’s premier game and as a result the sport is starting to rival Rugby and Cricket in terms of popularity. With major sponsors on board, including 2015 league sponsors Hyundai, the future for the A-League looks bright!
One of the major attractions of the A-League has been its unpredictability which has resulted in a total of 6 different champions since inception. In 10 years that is an impressive total compared to other leagues ad gives every fan hope that one day their team will lift the crown.
One team has began to stand out in recent years with Brisbane Roar having won titles in 2011,2012 and 2014 but with the likes of Melbourne Victory, Sydney FC and Central Coast Mariners with multiple wins between them, the season’s are never over until the final seconds.
Has the A-League though achieved one of its aims of widening the horizon for Australian Football and increasing the global audience? The answer must be a resounding yes. This has been aided by the attraction of players with world class reputations. Alessandro Del Piero came to the league on a multi million dollar deal that made headline sports news across the globe. Dwight Yorke and Emile Heskey swapped the Premier League for the A League and David Villa, whilst still a potent force in world football, swapped La Liga for the A League too! Add in legends such as Romario and Robbie Flower and not to mention the world famous home brewed players including Harry Kewell, Brett Emerton and Joshua Kennedy and it is clear the league has raises its standards. This has attracted TV deals across the globe from major coverage in the UK, USA, Ireland and India. The league continues to grow and the future in terms of a global audience is very bright indeed!
The league, although young, has already established its own legends. Several players have become households in Australia after playing over 200 times in the division. The likes of John Hutchinson, Danny Vukovi, Andrew Durante and Archie Thompson are growing into national icons. Carl Veart is the answers to a common Australian Trivia Question by scoring the first goal in the league for Adelaide United and between them Archie Thompson, Shane Smeltz and Besart Bersiha have broken scoring records time after time.
In essence the A-League is growing into a division worthy of time, respect and attention. Just like in non-football nations such as American and India, the injection of money, sponsors, new leagues and world class players has risen the profile of the game and no one can now ignore the league. Pele once said that a team from Africa would have won the World Cup by 2000. If the A-League continues to develop at this rate, then it won’t be long before the effect of a strong home game has its effects on the national side. Just as the MLS became a major world league attracting talent and attention, the A-League is starting to grow and with highly charged atmospheres, competitive matches and unpredictable outcomes, any football fan will be giving themselves a treat by paying a little more attention to what is going on down under