The Hyundai A-League
The A-League is Australia’s premier soccer league, a competition that includes 10 teams from across Australia and New Zealand.
The A-League season runs from October to May each year, with a 27-round regular season during which all sides play each other three times. The top six sides play off in a finals series that culminates in the A-League Grand Final, with all finals being one-off games with the home ground advantage going to the side which finished higher on the ladder.
A Brief A-League History
The A-League began in 2005, replacing the (let’s be honest, awful) National Soccer League (NSL).
The A-League Champions qualify for the Asian Football Confederations Champions League. The A-League does not have a relegation and promotion model, with the same 10 teams competing each season. Six clubs have been crowned A-League Premiers and five clubs have been crowned A-League Champions since the Leagues inception.
Ten Fast A-League Facts
1. Sydney Football Stadium has hosted 4 A-League Grand Finals, while Etihad Stadium and Suncorp Stadium have hosted the showcase match 3 times each.
2. There are 3 clubs that have played in the A-League who no longer participate – the New Zealand Knights, Gold Coast United and North Queensland Fury.
3. Only 5 of the ten current coaches are Australian natives.
4. All but 1 of the A-League captains are Australian – Melbourne City skipper Bruno Fornaroli is from Uruguay.
5. Adelaide United are the only side with a stadium that holds less than 20,000 people (16,500).
6. Arguably the biggest rivalry is the Big Blue between Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC. The cities are arch-rivals and the sides traditionally clash on Australia Day.
7. The A-League salary cap was $2.65m in 2016, with the minimum player salary being an all-time high $55,715.
8. Danny Vukovic has played in a record 278 A-League games, just ten games ahead of Andrew Durante.
9. Besart Berisha is the only player to score more than 100 A-League goals, tallying 102 goals to be clear of Shane Smeltz on 92 as of the en of the 2016-17 season.
10. In 2015, Sydney FC striker Marc Janko set an A-League record by scoring in 7 consecutive games.
A-League Betting Types
A-League betting has taken off as the competition has increased in popularity, with numerous betting options available.
Even two months out from the first game, betting is available on all three match results (each team winning, or a draw) for each game.
Additionally, punters can bet on the exact game score, the half-time/full-time double (where they can select what the score will be at half time, and then at full time), as well as which team and player will score first.
Another popular betting type is the over under, where each team in a game is given a scoring handicap at even money odds. Fans of a certain player can bet on whether they will score a goal at any stage in the match.
Of course, punters can also bet on the A-League champions at any stage throughout the season.
The Past 5 A-League Winners
2016/17 – Sydney FC defeated Melbourne Victory on penalties after the sides were tied at 1-1 after extra time.
Sydney FC dominated the season, losing just one game and finishing 17 points clear of Melbourne Victory.
The Sky Blues conceded just 12 goals all season.
Besart Berisha shocked the capacity crowd and sent the Victory ahead in the 21st minute, before Rhyan Grant equalised after 69 minutes. A pulsating contest ensued, with Sydney FC holding their nerve to win their third A-League title.
2015/16 – Adelaide United won their first ever A-League title, defeating the Western Sydney Wanderers 3-1.
It was the tightest A-League season ever, with just 8 points separating Adelaide and the 6th placed Melbourne Victory.
Bruce Kamau and Isaias Sanchez sent United ahead in the first half, and Pablo Sanchez sealed the title in the 89th minute after Scott Neville had given the Wanderers a glimpse of hope.
2014/15 – Melbourne Victory were dominant in the Grand Final, defeating Sydney FC 3-0 in a match between the top two sides from the regular season.
Perth Glory had finished 3rd on the ladder in the regular season, but were relegated to 7th due to salary cap breaches which excluded them from qualification to the Asian Champions League.
Berisha, Kosta Barbarouses and Leigh Broxham scored as the Victory coasted to their 3rd Grand Final victory.
2013/14 – The Brisbane Roar won their third A-League Grand Final with a 2-1 win in extra time against the Western Sydney Wanderers.
Brisbane finished 10 points clear on the top of the ladder and were ladder leaders for all but 2 weeks of the season.
Matthew Spiranovic put the Wanderers ahead, stunning a manic crowd at Suncorp Stadium but Berisha proved his quality, scoring in the 86th minute before Henrique scored the winner in the second half of extra time. The crowd of 51,153 went home happy for the second time in three years.
2012/13 – The Western Sydney Wanderers and Central Coast Mariners dominated the regular season, and met in the Grand Final where the Mariners defied the Wanderers crowd and home ground advantage to win 2-0.
The league’s leading goal scorer Daniel McBreen sealed the game from the penalty spot in the second half, after Patrick Zanussi had sent the Central Coast ahead on the stroke of half time.
The Past 5 A-League Top Scorers
2016/17 – Besart Berisha (Melbourne Victory) and Jamie McLaren (Brisbane Roar) with 19 goals each.
2015/16 – Bruno Fornaroli (Melbourne City) with 25 goals.
2014/15 – Marc Janko (Sydney FC) with 16 goals.
2013/14 – Adam Taggart (Newcastle Jets) with 16 goals.
2012/13 – Daniel McBreen (Central Coast Mariners) with 17 goals.
Most A-League Grand Final Wins
The Melbourne Victory, Brisbane Roar and Sydney FC have have each won three A-League Titles, with the Victory adding two runner-up trophies to their cabinet.
The Central Coast Mariners have won just once from four Grand Final appearances, while the Western Sydney Wanderers have made the big game three times but lost on all three occasions.
Melbourne City and the Wellington Phoenix have never made the Grand Final, while the Perth Glory have lost in their only Grand Final appearance when they were on the end of a terrible refereeing decision against Brisbane in 2012.