Open your calendars, and get out your pens (no need for pencils): the 2022-23 Isuzu UTE A-League season draw has been revealed, in full, in pre-season for the first time since the 2019-20 campaign.
Preparing for a season not hampered by the threat of Covid disruption, the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) have released the complete draw not weeks, but months prior to kick-off to a fresh campaign. It’s a break from the staggered approach enforced by the precarious nature of the pandemic.
The complete fixture release offers consistency to the fans, with 90% of the 156 games kicking off in four regular time slots over the course of each weekend (7.45pm, 5pm, 3pm, 1pm AEDT/AEST).
SAVE THE DATES: THE 2022-23 ISUZU UTE A-LEAGUE MATCHES YOU CAN’T MISS
The APL has broken away from the Saturday night double-header which was a regular feature of the 2021-22 ALM season, in an attempt to optimise league-wide attendance figures whilst increasing both broadcast viewership and fan engagement.
The standalone Saturday night fixture at 7.45pm will continue to be broadcast free to air on Network 10.
The season kicks off with a Grand Final rematch on Friday, October 7 between premiers Melbourne City and champions Western United at AAMI Park. Round 1 also features the F3 Derby between Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets, and the Big Blue which sees Luis Nani and Melbourne Victory travel to face Sydney FC at the brand new Allianz Stadium.
And for the very first time, a break in scheduling between November 14 and December 8 will allow fans to turn their attention solely to the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where the Socceroos will represent the nation on the biggest stage of all, before action resumes in the ALM.
For the majority of the 2022-23 campaign, ALM fans can expect to see:
- One fixture kick-off at 7.45pm AEDT/AEST on both Friday and Saturday nights
- Two simultaneous Saturday afternoon games (5.00pm AEDT/AEST)
- Two fixtures back-to-back on Sunday afternoons
Of the 156 fixtures, only nine will take place outside of the weekend: six on Mondays, two on Tuesdays, and one Thursday kick-off.
The sheer level of logistics required to put the 156-game draw together highlights the complexity of the task at hand, with the confirmation of each fixture holding implications for a minimum of four other games in the schedule.
Through the first six rounds prior to the World Cup break, the APL attempted to grant each team both three home and three away fixtures; for those clubs not receiving said parity, there’s no more than a one-game difference (either four home games and two away, or two home games and four away) across those first six rounds.
There are no triple away trips for any team this season, unless as a direct result of the home venue being blocked out due to renovations, concerts or events over the entirety of that three game period. The same can be said about home games: no club receives three home games in a row unless balancing out the only triple-away scenario listed above.
The APL has also ensured that no team has two home or away fixtures in succession on more than four occasions throughout the campaign.
A-Leagues Commissioner Greg O’Rourke said he was looking forward to delivering the first, fixed, full regular season schedule in three years after the disruption of COVID, with incoming stars such as Melbourne Victory marquee signing Nani adding to the buzz.
“Delivering a draw for our clubs and their members and fans is always an exciting and important milestone,” O’Rourke said. “This season we hope for a more healthy environment in our community with Covid reducing its impact on our daily lives.
“We have worked hard to reflect the feedback from the fans and deliver a draw that makes it easy to know when our games will be played, with 90% of them being scheduled in just four time slots.
“Our Saturday night game returns to standalone status, and we have worked to deliver as many games as possible in the slots that each club has told us their fans prefer.
“We have had some unique challenges with some stadiums out of action at various points, particularly in preparation for the FIFA Women’s World Cup next year, but with some eye-catching new signings and more young talent coming through, we are genuinely excited about the season ahead.”
The Liberty A-League Women’s season draw will be released in the coming weeks.