What Makes Australia's Top Flight competition the Hyundai A-League so exciting & attractive.
Updated: Aug 11, 2020
Over the course of the last six to eight weeks I've watched an extensive amount of Australia's top flight competition known respectively as the A-League or Hyundai A-League for sponsorship purposes. Despite Australia being a destination for or a sought place for vacations. Also a hospitable destination to move and live in with many of their biggest cities on the top of most livable lists, the league seems to not have reached the global scale in attention in comparison to leagues with similar attributes or level in terms of on-field quality. The A-League came into play in the year 2004 after it's predecessor the NSL (National Soccer League) folded due to being financially unviable being deemed not capable of operating a successful domestic league for Australia. The A-League began with eight teams and currently with eleven clubs (One being based in neighboring New Zealand with Wellington Phoenix) and with the expansion to twelve in start of the 2021 season with Macarthur FC being based in greater Sydney being the third club in the nations biggest city & urban area which will return the league to a even numbered amount of teams. Similar to the MLS in many aspects, the top flight of Australia doesn't run with a promotion-relegation system and also has incorporated a playoff system for the highest ranked teams given a Premiers Plate trophy to the highest seeded regular season club and giving the league title to the winner of the Grand Final.
With the understanding of the league and some basic knowledge of it's origins you may still be wondering what makes this league one to watch? First of all there hasn't really been a single game without it's own individual drama on the pitch so far from what I've witnessed recently and prior to it's restart earlier this summer. Yes the quality may not be comparable to the top leagues in Europe, but the A-League has done a good job at creating strong identities for each of it's current eleven clubs. When watching a game you can understand which clubs are the nations biggest and which are behind in terms of status. Despite that the competition features a significant degree of parity for example with this season seeing a club like Melbourne Victory who are historically if not indefinitely the countries top three largest and most successful clubs being second last on the table (or has they'd say the ladder). Another great example of the unpredictability of the league seeing new expansion club Western United FC based in greater Melbourne battling for top six finish that'll grant them a playoff berth only in their first season of existence. For instance this theory is continued to be proven with the underperforming Victory beaten the Perth Glory who are most likely going to finish with a playoff birth at the time of writing with a clear win accompanied with a clean sheet. Every game I've watched has shown that each game has it's own level of unforeseeable outcomes with most ending in dramatic high intense finishes. Even with the very first return game seeing Wellington Phoenix blow their lead in the final twenty minutes of action to ultimately lose the fixture to Sydney FC which may have lost the Premier's Plate for the leagues only New Zealand based club. That is one example of many of how these games in this competition get played out.
Previously mentioned was the fact that each club has a specific quality and/or identity trait that makes each club unique which then continues to add to the diversity of the league. For example one of the leagues derbies is played between Wellington Phoenix and Perth Glory being dubbed the distance derby for being the longest derby in terms of distance amongst two clubs in the world. Despite that even the derbies amongst teams playing in the same urban areas it's evidently shown that teams in cities like Melbourne & Sydney show that derbies such as the the Sydney Derby contested between Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC show that both clubs despite hailing from the same city are transparently different with Western Sydney being more of the people's team representing the greater western suburbs of Sydney and Sydney FC more so the center, CBD and eastern shores of Sydney being nicknamed early on as Bling FC due to their global brand & reach and ability to sign more marquee players from across the globe. Melbourne similarly has it's own diverse derby with Melbourne Victory being similar to Sydney FC as one of the leagues major clubs with a global outreach whereas the same could be said of Melbourne City with the later being owned by Manchester City and the City Council Group which owns multiple clubs around the globe. This isn't the fact as Victory had a five year start to City and also were occupying Melbourne's Docklands stadium (aka Marvel Stadium for sponsorship reasons) for some time as oppose to AAMI Park which has a smaller capacity against the docklands stadium. This dynamic has made a similar situation as of Sydney, with City being the people's team and Victory more so being historically the better of the two despite recent success of Melbourne City even comparable to the situation in Manchester with Man U and Man City.
If there's a smaller less known league around the world to follow and give a try I highly suggest the A-League is one to check out as it won't disappoint. With it's exciting finishes, parity across the league and with it's great number of domestic players and of foreign players. The best part of it is the Hyundai A-league is it's only sixteen years young and has grown tremendously and will only continue to do so with new clubs coming in with expansion and the quality development it's bound to be here for the long run as oppose to it's predecessor.