The biggest non-financial challenge to moving the A-League to winter and introducing a second division is the availability of stadiums and quality of pitches.
This analysis is focused on whether each club could host 12 games during the 28 weekends from the start of March to the start of September, when at least one of the other three football codes will also be playing.
Temporarily complicated, the city’s two major stadiums are being redeveloped.
During this time, Sydney will share Netstrata Jubilee Stadium with the NRL’s Dragons (five games) and Sharks (11 games), who are temporarily away from PointsBet Stadium.
In 2020, an NRL game was scheduled at Netstrata Jubilee on 15 of 28 weekends. Sydney could avoid this easily enough, particularly as they also have Leichhardt Oval, where the Wests Tigers host only three games.
In 2023, Sydney FC will likely return to Allianz Stadium, where they should be able to work around co-tenants the Roosters (11 to 12 games) and the Waratahs (seven or eight games).
Normally, the Wanderers share Bankwest Stadium with the Eels (11 games) and Wests Tigers (four games). In 2020, these teams were due to play there on 14 of 28 weekends (four times on Sunday and once on Monday), which would provide enough clear space for Western Sydney.
Until around 2023, however, the Wanderers will have to also share Bankwest with the Rabbitohs and the Bulldogs while ANZ Stadium is redeveloped, and the Waratahs for three games while Allianz is rebuilt.
This would be a fixturing headache, but hopefully the modern stadium would ensure a higher pitch quality. Otherwise WSW could host the odd game somewhere like Penrith or Belmore, or insist their temporary co-tenants take some games elsewhere.
Macarthur would be fine as they share Campbelltown Stadium with the Wests Tigers, who only host three games there. Additional Sydney teams would have these ample stadium options from 2023 onwards.
The Jets could work around the Knights hosting 12 games over 28 weekends at McDonald Jones Stadium. In 2020, this was due to include five games on Saturday and six on Sunday, meaning the Jets could play a day before them some weekends if required.
The Mariners would want to avoid two annual NRL games at Central Coast Stadium. Otherwise it is all theirs.
If the Wollongong Wolves enter a second division, they could easily avoid St George Illawarra’s six games a year at the 23,000-seat WIN Stadium.
A team from the nation’s capital should be able to avoid likely co-tenants the Raiders (11-12 games) and the Brumbies (seven or eight games), either at GIO Stadium or a proposed new, centrally-located stadium. In 2020, GIO was due to host at least one form of rugby on 14 of 28 weekends – four times on Saturday and six on Sunday.
The Roar share Suncorp Stadium with the Broncos (12 games) and the Reds (eight games). In 2020, at least one form of rugby was due to be played there on 17 of 28 weekends, which provides room for football.
However, the Roar are reportedly seeking to build a new boutique stadium, which should provide exclusivity. In the meantime, Dolphin Stadium is available for some games alongside Suncorp. Additional Brisbane-based teams would also face this situation.
A new team could avoid co-tenants the Titans at the 27,000-seat Cbus Super Stadium. In 2020, the Titans were due to host 11 games there, five Saturday games and three Sunday games.
A new team would have close to exclusive access to Sunshine Coast Stadium, which in 2020 was scheduled to host two NRL games. It has a capacity of 12,000 (1000 seated), but the local council is seeking state and federal funding for expansion.
A new team could work around sharing the 25,000-seat Queensland Country Bank Stadium with the Cowboys in Townsville. In 2020, the Cowboys were due to play there 12 times, seven times on Saturday and once on Sunday. If Cairns was used for some games, Barlow Park has a capacity of 18,000 (1700 seated).
Overall, each region in Australia and New Zealand has its unique advantages and challenges, but it is possible to fixture A-League and second division games from March to September in suitable stadiums and on quality pitches. Bring it on!