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The Roar


Have we finally reached Peak A-League? Epic fail as wrong team go top after ALM fail to read own rules

1st January, 2024
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1st January, 2024
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The A-League is known for loveable, if slightly amateurish quirks – and they appear to have made an error that might top the lot.

Indeed, it is the top that was the issue, as an eagle-eyed Wellington Phoenix fan appears to have noticed that his side should have been placed first at the turn of the year instead of league leaders Melbourne Victory.

The Vuck’s win over Adelaide United saw them leapfrog the Nix on the evening of the 30th December, with Wellington’s defeat to Sydney FC the night before opening the door for a new leader at New Year.

With the two clubs level on 20 points, Victory’s superior goal difference – +10 to +6 – saw them go top of the pile.

Yet, according to the A-League’s own rules, the tiebreaker between teams on the same competition points is in fact their number of wins, which would see the Kiwis top by virtue of six victories to Melbourne’s five.

This is, as seasoned football fans will know, not how it works in the fast majority of football competitions around the world – but, as one Nix fan on Twitter discovered, it is there in plain black and white in the A-League’s rules.

They are as follows: “If two or more Clubs are level on points accumulated, the following criteria will be applied, in order, until all Clubs can be separated and ranked in order: total number of wins; highest goal difference; highest number of goals scored” and so on.


Or, as the social media user themselves put it: “Oi,@aleaguemen, we @WgtnPhoenix are top. Do you know your own rules?”

At time of writing, the A-League have not yet altered the league ladder on their website, though according to reports, they are in the process of instructing their digital teams to change the order of teams.

Wellington would not be the only winners under these new/old rules. Sydney FC are currently listed in tenth, but have four wins to ninth-placed Newcastle Jets’ three.

Football leagues around the world typically prefer goal difference or head-to-head record between teams – as is used in the Champions League – because the draw is so much more prevalent in soccer than it is in, for example, the AFL or NRL, where wins generally suffice as a tiebreaker.