The A-League is a pretty awesome league, with ten superstar clubs, great players, an exciting finals series, and all sorts of other stuff. However, all may not be as it seems.
Wellington Phoenix was recently denied a ten-year licence to play in the A-League, meaning this could be their last season. This has happened before in the A-League. The New Zealand Knights collapsed after just two seasons, to be replaced by the Phoenix, North Queensland lasted two seasons, and now play in Queensland’s top league, Clive Palmer made Gold Coast United explode, and the Newcastle Jets of 2015-16 are actually a different entity to the Jets of 2014-15, who ran up millions in debts. On top of all that, I think that Melbourne Heart would have given up if it wasn’t for Manchester City buying us. In fact, the Wanderers are the only successful expansion team.
If it keeps going like this, Australian soccer is stuffed.
Fortunately, we here at Statscrunch have a solution.
Firstly, here’s a look at the A-League teams of the present:
And now, here’s the Statscrunch suggestion for the New A-League:
This removes the WeNix from the league, adding in Hobart, Canberra, and a second Adelaide team. They will be referred to as the Hobart Hyenas, the Canberra Comets, and the Adelaide Wolves respectively.
The A-League, under this system, is split into two conferences: one contains NSW, QLD, and ACT teams, the other containing teams from all other states. In this system, every team plays their divisional opponents three times, and the others twice. Here’s a sample table that I prepared earlier:
In this scenario, Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory go straight through to the semi-final, whereas Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide United will go to the playoffs.
Under this playoff system, 2nd in the Eastern Conference (Canberra) plays 3rd in the Southern/Western Conference (Adelaide United). The winner goes to the finals. Same thing for the other two.
Assuming Adelaide and Perth win, then we get this table, showing the results of the home and away season for our four finalists.
Our finals series is the Page-McIntyre Final Four that the AFL used for forty years.
What about at the other side?
In this case, the Newcastle Jets and Adelaide Wolves would go in a playoff. Assuming Newcastle lost, then they would be relegated, and replaced by a team from the Division 2 equivalent of the Eastern Conference.
As for how this affects other competitions:
In qualification for the Asian Champions League, the top team in each conference would qualify, as would the team finishing second with the most points. In this format, Victory, Sydney, and Perth would qualify.
For the FFA Cup, the tournament would be expanded by one round. There would be 20 matches in a preliminary round, with the winners qualifying for a round of 32, featuring the A-League clubs.
What do you think of this system? Let me know in the comments.