For the first time in competition history, the A-League will align with all major football competitions by breaking for FIFA international windows during the 2018/19 season.

The A-League will commence on Friday 19 October, two weeks later than the previous season and will observe FIFA international match windows in November 2018 and March 2019.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) confirmed the revision on Thursday following the release of the 2018/19 fixture, a move welcomed by PFA Chief Executive John Didulica.

“It’s really great news to see the international match dates built into the A-League calendar,” Didulica told PFA TV. “There’s so many compelling reasons for that decision to be made and we applaud FFA having the courage to move forward with that and bringing all the different parties together to make sure it happened, from stadia, to broadcasters to clubs to the players.”

Didulica outlined that research conducted by the PFA had demonstrated that the non-alignment of the A-League with international calendars had been a ‘core issue’ for players and was a negative impact on player’s match participation.

“Our work over the past few years has shown firstly that this is a really important matter for players, with 70 to 80 per cent of players believing it to be a core issue that needs to be resolved. Just looking at the number of games missed over a long period of time; a couple of years ago over 80 matches were missed as a consequence of international match breaks not being observed and even last season over 40 games missed by players as a consequence of the non-alignment of calendars.”

With the A-League conforming to the international windows, Didulica suggested that the W-League fixture should also follow suit, in order to ensure the utmost focus on both international and domestic football.

“We think it’s a great step forward, hopefully we’ll see the same thing done with the W-League and on those breaks we can refocus on our national teams. I think fundamental to growing the game here is ensuring we can really have focus on the Socceroos and the Matildas when we need it and equally we can focus on the A-League and the W-League when we need it.

“When we run them both at the same time there is an inevitable dilution of focus, so let’s really make sure when the Socceroos and Matildas play we can back them without any distraction and likewise with the A-League we can back that competition when we’ve got those weekends. So I think it’s a great step forward and we can build on it this A-League season.”