The PFA has today published a report on the impact of Australian football’s national knockout cup competition, the Australia Cup. 

As the competition enters its ninth season in 2023, and with a women’s Australia Cup mooted for 2024, the PFA has examined the competition’s evolution over the past four seasons and linked that to previous analysis published by the organisation. 

The 2022 edition is the PFA’s third report analysing the tournament, covering the 2018 – 2022 seasons, following the previously published 2014-2016 report and 2017 report

Drawing on data from all eight editions of the Cup and player feedback from surveys with A-League Men (ALM) and National Premier League (NPL) players, the 2022 report’s key findings include: 

  • A total of 127 goals were scored during the 2022 Final Round phase, the highest in competition history, at an average of 3.8 per match. 
  • Overall attendances have decreased post-pandemic, with matches between two Member Federation (MF) clubs attracting an average crowd of 859 in 2022. 
  • The average age of ALM players fielded in the Australia Cup has decreased since 2017, while the average age of MF players has plateaued. 
  • For the first time in competition history, the average age of ALM players was younger than the average age of MF players in 2021. 
  • In both the 2019 and 2021 seasons, ALM clubs fielded a higher percentage of teenagers than MF clubs, while the shares were equal in 2022. 
  • The current competition model places all stakeholders under strain, with the tournament relying on the goodwill of the Australian football community and sacrifice from players and clubs, and is subsidised by Football Australia, given the expansive travel associated with the competition. 

Click here to read the PFA 2022 Australia Cup report.

Upon launch of the report, PFA Co-Chief Executive Beau Busch said: “The Australia Cup has been a wonderful competition for clubs and players and continues to play a crucial role as the great connector for the game’s community and grassroots clubs, former National Soccer League teams and the professional A- Leagues clubs. 

“It has elevated teams from every corner of Australia into the national consciousness, provided an additional platform for player development and delivered magic moments for fans to cherish. 

“While it remains a highly anticipated event on the football calendar and continues to capture the imagination of the Australian football public, this research suggests the competition has found it difficult to build value to enhance the entire sport. 

“For the competition to develop, a new partnership between the clubs, players and Football Australia is essential, particularly with a women’s Australia Cup on the horizon. Simply imposing the current model on the women’s game will only intensify the challenges for female players and clubs.”