The A-League is Australia’s premier national football competition, having replaced the defunct NSL in 2004. Kicking off its inaugural season in 2005-06, the A-League currently features ten teams – nine from Australia and one from New Zealand. Adelaide United are the defending champions, having defeated the Western Sydney Wanderers in the 2016 grand final. The 2016-17 season will be the competition’s 12th instalment.
The A-League commenced its ninth season in October 2013 with the league scaled back to ten teams after the removal of North Queensland Fury, two years after expansion saw both the Fury and Gold Coast United enter the A-League, and Melbourne Heart following the year after. Melbourne Heart have since been renamed Melbourne City after their takeover by the owners of English Premier League club Manchester City. The Western Sydney Wanderers were the latest team to be added to the league, in 2012/13. In what was one of the sporting stories of the season, the Wanderers captured the premiership plate with their first attempt, but failed to convert that into a maiden title. Two more grand final appearances later, and the men from Western Sydney are still waiting to get their hands on their first premiership.
The Wanderers were runners-up again in 2016, going down to Adelaide United at a packed Adelaide Oval 3-1. The Wanderers were never really in the game, with the home side starting strongly and taking an early 2-0 lead through a neat Bruce Kamau finish and a sublime free kick from Isais.
A thunderous finish from Wanderers’ defender Scott Neville set up a nervous for United, before super-sub Pablo Sanchez put the result beyond doubt with a late sealer.
Previous winners of the A-League include Sydney FC (twice), Melbourne Victory (three), Brisbane Roar (three), Newcastle Jets, Adelaide United and the Central Coast Mariners. Currently, the two highest-ranked teams gain entry into the group phase of the Asian Champions League.