The A-League Men has rebounded from the financial impact of COVID-19, with an increase in investment from clubs, improved player contract stability and a sustained focus on youth development.

These are among the key findings in the PFA’s annual A-League Men Report which provides an overview of the 2021/22 campaign and assesses the employment framework and workplace conditions for Australia’s professional footballers.

With the 2022/23 season kicking off next week, the Report indicates the A-League Men competition has solid foundations to build and capitalise upon. The following are among the key findings within the Report: 

A-League Men leads Asian rivals in providing opportunities for U21 players
The A-League Men leads all rival Asian Football Confederation (AFC) domestic competitions for fielding players aged 21 or under and sits eighth on a list of 60 leagues from around the world. The League’s average age has been the lowest in competition history during the past three seasons, dropping from an average of 27 to 25. Across the season, 42% of match minutes available were occupied by players under 25.

The A-League Men is the most competitively balanced league in the Asian Football Confederation
The A-League Men has the closest level of quality among its 12 teams and the tightest points spread recorded in the past decade, delivering more competitive tension within matches and across the season than any other top Asian league.

Club investment has returned to pre-pandemic levels 
Clubs invested $52m in A-League Men player payments in the 2021/22 season, demonstrating a rebound in investment following the financial impact of COVID-19 on clubs, up from $38.1m (2020/21).

Player churn continues to trend downwards following the establishment of a five-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA)
The percentage of players coming off contract at the start of the 2021/22 season was the lowest recorded in eight seasons, decreasing from 68% last season to 48%. The current contract length of Australian players in the A-League Men is among the highest in comparator leagues from Africa, South America, North America and Asia, and the highest in the AFC region.

Click here to download and view the Report

PFA Co-Chief Executive Beau Busch said the report underlined the positive impact of the five-year CBA and underlined the resilience of a competition that was severely impacted by COVID-19.

“The objective of agreeing to a five-year CBA was to provide both a genuine partnership between the players and the clubs and crucially to provide the professional game with a stable platform to rebuild the industry. 

“Encouragingly, we continue to see a range of positive trends in relation to increased investment in players, the emergence of a host of talented players and improved contractual stability. 

“Whilst these are welcomed signs, there remains much to do to establish the professional game in this country and this report provides the evidential basis to assess our progress as a football nation and benchmark ourselves against our international rivals.”

Previous A-League Men Reports  

About the PFA’s Research

For players, understanding the game of football and the industry within which they are employed is critical to building meaningful lives and careers. To help support our players throughout their careers, the PFA conducts regular research to assist in improving workplace conditions that not only shapes the professional game, but helps players make informed decisions about their careers. We believe a better-informed game leads to more impactful football education, analysis and decision-making.