The A-League is the highest Australasian professional association football (soccer) league. Run by Australian governing body Football Federation Australia (FFA), it was founded in 2004 following the folding of the National Soccer League and staged its inaugural season in 2005–06. It is sponsored by Hyundai Motor Company Australia and Qantas, and is officially known as the Hyundai A-League. The league is contested by ten teams: nine in Australia and one from New Zealand. Related leagues include a National Youth League (NYL) and the Women's Westfield W-League.
- Main article: A-League Pre-Season Challenge Cup
Prior to the 2009–10 season, a pre-season competition was held in August, as a precursor to the main season. In the Pre-Season Cup, the teams were evenly placed into two groups. Each team played the others in the group once over three rounds.
Beginning in 2006, an additional bonus round was then held, with each team playing a cross-over match with a team from a different group. In addition to the standard points (3 for a win, 1 for a draw), there were special bonus points on offer for the bonus round matches:
- 1 bonus point for 2 goals scored by a team,
- 2 bonus points for 3 goals scored by a team, or
- 3 bonus points for 4 or more goals scored by a team.
- 4 bonus points for scoring 5 goals by a player.
This format was edited for the 2007 competition. The bonus round was removed, and the bonus points system introduced into each of the first three rounds. All eight teams then entered a knock-out round, culminating in the final in late August.
The Pre-Season Cup was removed from 2009-10's A-League schedule in order to give the clubs more control over their own pre-season training.
The regular season runs mainly during the Australian summer, from early October to February of the following year. The competition consists of 27 matches over 25 weeks, with each team playing every other team three times – twice at home and once away. The teams allotted two home matches against an opponent in one season are allotted one home match against that opponent in the following season. Each match sees the winning team awarded three competition points, with one point each for a draw. At the end of the season the teams are ranked firstly by competition points accumulated, then goal difference, total goals scored, head-to-head records between tying teams and finally the number of cards each team has received. The club at the top of this ladder is crowned A-League Premiers, and as of the 2006–07 season, will be entered into the AFC Champions League.
At the completion of the regular season teams are ranked from one to ten with the top six teams progressing to the finals series. The position of each team is determined by the highest number of points accumulated during the Regular Season. If two or more teams are level on points, the following criteria are applied in order until one of the teams can be determined as the higher ranked:
- Highest goal difference;
- Highest number of goals scored;
- Highest number of points accumulated in matches between the teams concerned;
- Highest goal difference in matches between the teams concerned;
- Highest number of goals scored in matches between the teams concerned;
- Lowest number of red cards accumulated;
- Lowest number of yellow cards accumulated;
- Toss of a coin.
The top six teams at the end of the regular season are entered into a finals series, where the top two ranked teams in the regular season compete over two legs (with ties decided by the away goals rule, including extra time), the winner progressing straight to and hosting the Grand Final.
On the same weekend, the third and sixth-ranked teams play each other, the same for the fourth and fifth-ranked teams. The winners of these matches play each other, the winner of which goes ahead to play in a Preliminary Final against the loser of the two-legged match between the top two teams. The winner of this match progresses to the Grand Final. As of the 2006–07 season, this team will also contest the AFC Champions League, although if the team that wins the Premiership goes through to the Grand Final then the other Grand Final competitor will be awarded the second spot in the competition, win or lose. In previous seasons the finals series had four teams, and has been extended to accommodate for the increased number of clubs in the competition.
- Main article: FFA Cup
The FFA Cup will be a knock-out style cup, running from March 2012 to January 2013  during the 2012–13 A-League season, with games to be played midweek and the final to be held on Australia Day. All football clubs will be available to enter the cup and smaller teams will have to survive earlier knockout rounds before mixing with A-League clubs in the last-32 stage.
The winner of the cup is expected to gain qualification to the AFC Champions League. It is hoped that the cup will help engage local football fans in the community, consequently boosting interest in the A-League.
The A-League logo, designed by Coast Design Sydney, is a three-dimensional sphere. The two-toned ochre colours represent the sun, earth and desert while the 'glow' emanating from the centre of the logo depicts the playing season's spring and summer time span. The eight 'A' figures that make up the ball shape represent the eight foundation clubs.
At the start of the inaugural season, an 3 million dollar advertising campaign was launched, with the television and film advertisements produced by Ridley Scott's production company. The theme for the campaign was: "Football, but not as you know it".
A new television advertisement was created for the start of the 2007–08 season, which debuted on Foxtel's program Total Football. It was filmed at Bob Jane Stadium in Melbourne. The theme of the current campaign is "90 minutes, 90 emotions". This promotional campaign continued into the 2008–09 season, along with music track "My People" from Australian act The Presets.
The A-League has been featured in the FIFA series by EA SPORTS since the 2008 edition of the game, as well as the Football Manager series by SI Games and the Championship Manager series by Beautiful Game Studios.
In 2008, 2009 and 2010 a Fox reality show, Football Superstar, offered as a prize a contract with an A-League club. The clubs that have participated so far are Sydney FC, Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar.
|Adelaide United||Hindmarsh Stadium||2003|
|Brisbane Roar||Suncorp Stadium||2005|
|Central Coast Mariners||Bluetongue Stadium||2006|
|Gold Coast United FC||Skilled Park||2009|
|Melbourne Heart||AAMI Park||2010|
|Melbourne Victory||AAMI Park||2005|
|Newcastle United Jets||Hunter Stadium||2000|
|North Queensland Fury||Dairy Farmers Stadium||2009|
|Perth Glory||NIB Stadium||1997|
|Sydney FC||Allianz Stadium||2005|
|Wellington Phoenix||Westpac Stadium||2007|
- ↑ "North Qld, Gold Coast to join A-League". ABC News. 26 August 2008. Archived from the original on 28 August 2008. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/08/28/2348941.htm. Retrieved 26 August 2008.
- ↑ Hassett, Sebastian (20 April 2009). "Clubs ditch Pre-Season Cup". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 22 April 2009. http://www.smh.com.au/news/sport/football/a-league/clubs-ditch-preseason-cup/2009/04/19/1240079538095.html. Retrieved 23 April 2009.
- ↑ "Hyundai A-League > Rules". A-League.com.au. Archived from the original on 4 October 2006. http://www.a-league.com.au/default.aspx?s=rules. Retrieved 3 November 2006.
- ↑ "Grand Final rematch to open HAL season". A-League.com.au. 1 May 2006. http://www.a-league.com.au/default.aspx?s=newsdisplay&id=3823. Retrieved 3 November 2006.
- ↑ Template:PDFlink Football Federation Australia, 20 April 2009. Retrieved on 28 April 2009.
- ↑ "Small players to get a shot at A-League's best". Melbourne: The Age. 17 February 2011. http://www.theage.com.au/sport/soccer/small-players-to-get-a-shot-at-aleagues-best-20110216-1aws0.html. Retrieved 20 February 2011.
- ↑ "Logo signals refreshing new era". 1 November 2004. http://www.a-league.com.au/default.aspx?s=newsdisplay&id=616. Retrieved 19 December 2006.
- ↑ "New A-League ad hits the screens". FourFourTwo. 9 August 2007. http://au.fourfourtwo.com/news/58536,aleague-ad-hits-the-screens.aspx. Retrieved 6 January 2008.
- ↑ "Hyundai A-League To Feature in FIFA 08 Video Game". 20 August 2007. Archived from the original on 2 September 2007. http://www.footballaustralia.com.au/InsideFFA/default.aspx?s=insideffa_newsfeatures_newsitem&id=18867. Retrieved 21 August 2007.