Preparations for the 2023/24 A-League campaign are well underway, with the big kick-off now less than two months away.
The 47th edition is expected to be the last as a 12-team competition as another two teams will be added into the mix from 2024/25.
Read on as we look at some of the top news stories from around the A-League, starting with the latest broadcast deal developments.
Garcia Defends A-League TV Deal
Free-to-air coverage of the A-League will again be restricted to Network 10’s secondary channel when the 2023/24 season starts on October 20.
Two regular season games will be aired each week on 10 Bold – one on Saturday night and one on Sunday – matching last season’s coverage.
Despite calls for greater television exposure for the A-League, commissioner Nick Garcia says he is focused on creating a consistent viewing experience for fans.
“We are building from a successful season 2022/23 where crowds grew 44 percent and broadcast viewership was up over 50 percent on free-to-air television for the finals and saw a 48 percent growth in minutes viewed for the A-League men’s regular season,” Garcia said.
The new season starts with an intriguing clash between Adelaide United and reigning champions Central Coast Mariners at Cooper Stadium.
The opening weekend also features a ‘Big Blue’ between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory, while Melbourne City host Western United.
The A-League season will break for FIFA international windows, but will continue while the AFC Asian Cup is staged during January and February.
Round 1 Matches
Friday, October 20
- Adelaide United vs Central Coast Mariners – Coopers Stadium (7.45 pm)
Saturday, October 21
- Macarthur FC v Brisbane Roar – Campbelltown Stadium (3.30 pm)
- Melbourne City vs Western United – AAMI Park (5.30 pm)
- Sydney FC vs Melbourne Victory – Allianz Stadium (7.45pm)
Sunday, October 22
- Western Sydney Wanderers vs Wellington Phoenix – CommBank Stadium (3.00 pm)
- Perth Glory vs Newcastle Jets – HBF Park (7.45 pm)
City Set for AFC Champions League Reunion
Melbourne City will head into the new season with their sights set on redemption after a shock ending to the previous campaign.
Having finished the regular season 11 points clear at the top of the table, City were the overwhelming favourites with the bookmakers to win the A-League Grand Final.
They swept Sydney FC aside in the semi-finals, but were stunned in the title decider as the Mariners upset the odds to secure a remarkable 6-1 victory.
The bookies have backed them to make amends this season, installing them as 14/5 favourites to win the title for the second time in their short history.
City are also set to compete in the AFC Champions League and will be eager to make progress from what looks to be a favourable opening group.
They will face a familiar foe at that stage of the competition, with former Newcastle Jets coach Arthur Papas now employed as Buriram United’s technical director.
City and the Thai Premier League outfit are joined in Group H by Japanese second tier club Ventforet Kofu and Chinese Super League outfit Zhejiang FC.
While City will fancy their chances of qualifying for the last-16, they may find it tough to compete with the top-ranked teams in the tournament.
According to several of the sportsbooks featured at MyBettingAustralia, Saudi Pro League clubs will dominate this year’s AFC Champions League.
Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad are among the Saudi clubs who have been splashing the cash on big-name players from major European leagues this summer.
However, City will be eager to upset the odds on the best Australian betting sites by making their mark in a competition which is growing in popularity.
Outgoing United Chief Defends Move to Training Base
With their stadium in the west of Melbourne still to be completed, Western United will use their training base to stage home games this season.
The new ground is at least two years away from being finished, forcing United to play their fixtures at their Tarneit training facility.
Outgoing United boss Chris Pehlivanis has defended the move to a ground which may only be able to hold around 5,000 spectators for league games.
“It’s in the final stage of development, with completion on track for this summer,” Pehlivanis said.
“We know that we’ll be playing games there. It’s just locking it in now. We’re at the final stages, and we’re all excited.
“This is the first step in moving to the area that’s going to be home, and that’s what we’ve all been waiting for. Everyone’s doing an amazing job working together.”
United’s first three games of the new campaign are away from home, with their first home match scheduled for Saturday, November 11, against Newcastle Jets.
The 2022 champions may need to move at least three games before they can play at Tarneit, but have several options available to them.
Hobart, Geelong, Footscray, Ballarat, Launceston and AAMI Park have all previously staged United home matches and could offer a temporary solution during the early part of the campaign.
Despite their nomadic existence, United are a best-priced 11/1 to win the A-League title for the second time in five seasons.