More minutes, more matches and more teams and, importantly, a long-term vision for women’s football with a full home and away season on the near horizon.

That’s what the Australian Professional Leagues have delivered today in partnership with the PFA and the players, with an extended 18 match A-League Women season from November this year.

Western United were confirmed as the latest expansion team, while Central Coast Mariners’ entry in 2023/24 delivers a roadmap to a full home and away season.

Match minutes available to Australian-based players will reach the international benchmark within 18 months, giving players in the A-League Women the opportunity to play as regularly as they would in many international leagues abroad.

So how did we get here and what does it mean for Australian female footballers and our PFA members?

The players’ vision for full home and away

In 2016, the players set about putting a vision in place for the W-League. 

Citing the need for improved workplace standards and conditions, the establishment of a minimum wage, improved competition visibility and a balanced and fair competition structure were earmarked as key priorities for growth of the women’s game.

Last year, ahead of the historic five-year CBA signed with the Australian Professional Leagues, the players further reiterated their vision for the competition, while acknowledging the devastating impact of COVID on football.

Alongside the overall objective of delivering a CBA that provided economic security, stability and sustainability for the Leagues the clubs and the players, the players placed a full home and away season high on the agenda. 

Wednesday’s announcement comes after regular dialogue with the PFA’s A-League Women delegates over the past 12 months and in recent weeks, and thanks to the solidarity of the players, for the first time, the ALW competition has announced clear steps to full-time professionalism. 

The players now have a competition that delivers meaningful employment, a professional career path and a strong and sustainable league that will develop the next generation of Australian talent.

Increase in rounds, matches and contracts

The 20-round season will feature 18 regular-season games per club, with 16 weekend rounds and two midweek rounds.

Each team will have an additional four matches across 20 rounds, with byes observed due to the uneven number of teams.

Leading into the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year, the season will commence on November 18 with the Grand Final scheduled to take place on the weekend of the 29-30th of April 2023.

The contract period for players will extend from 23 weeks to 29 weeks, of which five will be allocated to club’s pre-season ahead of kick off on November 18.

Three expansion clubs in three seasons

Western United and Central Coast’s inclusions bring the total number of new A-League Women teams since APL’s independence to three and the League’s total to 12 – the same as the A-League Men’s competition – by 2023/24.

Central Coast’s inclusion is still contingent on FA Board approval before the 2023/24 season.

Across Phoenix, United and Central Coast, there will be over 50 new professional contracts available for Australia and New Zealand’s best talent.

More matches, more minutes

From next season, the A-League Women will offer 360 regular season minutes of football, taking the total regular season minutes to 1,620. More match minutes are available to the top four teams who will qualify for a three-week finals campaign.

The 2023-24 season will provide A-League players with a total of 1980 regular season minutes, bringing the competition in line with global benchmarks set by England’s Women’s Super League, America’s National Women’s Soccer League and France’s Division 1 Feminine.

What is the minimum wage?

The minimum wage will increase for the 2022/23 season from $16,344 to $20,608 (2022/23) and then to $25,000 in 2023/24 – an increase of over 50% in three seasons.

What are the plans beyond 2023/24?

As the PFA and the APL have signed a five-year CBA, there is scope for a review of the competition each season. The review will incorporate the commercial viability of the league but also the players’ views on areas of improvement for the future.

A five-year CBA gives clubs and players the certainty that the League will grow during the length of the agreement.

If you have any further questions about the A-League Women’s competition, please do not hesitate to contact your PFA Player Development Manager