Which Teams Have The Best Chance in The A-League Next Season?
By Jonathan Lewis | 31st Aug 2023
What is the A-League?
The A-League is Australia’s elite soccer competition, and is part of the Oceania Football Confederation. This is where the very best in men’s and women’s teams come together and battle out for who is Australia’s top side. The A-League was established in 2005 as the men’s premier soccer competition, and the women’s version, the W-League, was set up in 2008.
In September 2021, the two leagues were rebranded, and the current A-League’s identity was forged. In Australia, men’s and women’s soccer are the two pillars of the A-League. The competitions are administered by the relative newcomer to Australian soccer, The Australian Professional League (APL). They are also responsible for the country’s National Youth League (Y-League) and are having an enormous impact on soccer and its popularity in Australia.
The APL has been independent of Football Australia since 2021, and its strategy is about driving engagement with men’s and women’s elite soccer and building on the passion there is for the game in Australia and throughout the world. Their vision is to unite, entertain, and grow the audience in Australia while showcasing an inclusive and welcoming national sport.
Australia – a soccer nation
If Australia has not previously had much of a reputation as a soccer nation, the men’s performance at the FIFA World Cup and the joint-hosting of The Women’s World Cup this year has certainly changed this perspective. The Matildas stole many hearts with their performance and broke many more when they came fourth in the competition. However, their performance, and those of the other female sides, has fired up interest in women’s soccer like never before.
Australia’s Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, has promised millions of dollars of new funding for the women’s game. Money will go towards grassroots and elite training and facilities. It could be as simple as women’s changing facilities with funding determined by an independent advisory body to avoid any controversy over grant decisions. It has been announced that applications will open early in 2024. It seems everyone is interested in soccer, which is now the country’s fastest-growing national participation sport. There is also an increased interest in betting opportunities, and many of the big sportsbooks have bonus bet offers on the games in the A-League.
Action will kick off across the A-League in October; now is the time to study form and decide which teams have the best chance to win. On the Men’s side of the A-League, Melbourne City are the favorites to win the competition. They are streets ahead at the bookies of their closest rivals, Central Coast Mariners.
In 2022/23, Melbourne City bagged the title with sixteen wins, seven draws, and three defeats across the twenty-six games played. This meant they picked up fifty-five points, eleven points clear of those Central Coast Mariners. So, the top two teams from last move forward as the favorites and second-tipped squad for the coming season.
Western Sydney Wanders, Sydney FC, Adelaide United, and Melbourne Victory are also considered to be in with a decent chance. The other teams have much longer odds, including Western United FC and the Wellington Phoenix. If you fancy a long shot, you could place your bets on one of the outside teams and see if their luck changes.
Even Melbourne City players know about changing luck; they were humiliated with a 6-1 loss to the Mariners at the end of the season and missed out on doing the double. That incredibly disappointing end to the season means the team will be looking forward to the new campaign as they attempt to add the title of Premiers to the league win. They will still be smarting from that defeat, which could affect their confidence going forward. Only time will tell if they can settle back into their winning stride.
Building on World Cup enthusiasm
The A-League women are set to launch its 2023-24 season differently this year to capitalize on the interest generated by the Women’s World Cup. The feeling is there will never be a better opportunity for interest in soccer in Australia. The Women’s A-League normally starts during the men’s season, but this year, they will kick off one week ahead of the men. Chloe Logarzo from Western United said her club and the rest of the league were committed to making the most of the interest the Women’s World Cup had generated.
Last season, Western United made it to the A-League Women’s grand final in their inaugural season, but crowds were rarely more than 1,000 at the games. The Women’s World Cup saw record attendances at grounds and enormous television audiences. When the Matildas lost to England in the semi-final, it was the highest-rated TV program since the current rating system began in 2001.
The Liberty A-League season kicks off on 12th October, and there will be a standalone weekend of games in the country’s top stadiums. It is being positioned as a celebration of women’s soccer. The regular season will run to twenty-two games, and Central Coast Mariners are re-joining the competition.
The Mariners open the season with a showdown against Newcastle Jets, and Sydney FC take on Western Sydney Wanderers in the Sydney Derby later in the evening. It is all to play for the Women’s A-League, so study the form and place your bets. With so much excitement around the game, everyone will be a winner this season, and a new chapter in soccer history is about to be written.
Jonathan Lewis is an MFF sports writer