The A-League Men rebounded from the financial impact of COVID-19, with increased club investment, better stability in player contracts and a continued focus on youth development.
These are among the key findings of the PFA’s annual A-League Men’s Report, which provides an overview of the 2021/22 campaign and assesses the employment framework and working conditions of Australian professional footballers.
With the 2022/23 season kicking off next week, the report says the men’s A-League competition has solid foundations to build on and capitalize on. Here are some of the key findings of the report:
A-League Men leads Asian rivals in providing opportunities for U21 players
The A-League Men leads all rival Asian Football Confederation (AFC) domestic competitions for players aged 21 or under and ranks eighth in a list of 60 leagues worldwide. The League’s average age was the lowest in competitive history for the past three seasons, falling from an average of 27 to 25. During the season, 42% of available match minutes were occupied by players under the age of 25.
The A-League Men is the most competitive league in the Asian Football Confederation
The A-League Men has the closest quality level among its 12 teams and the tightest point spread recorded in the past decade, providing more competitive tension in games and throughout the season than any other top Asian league.
Club investment has returned to pre-pandemic levels
Clubs invested $52 million in A-League Men player payments during the 2021/22 season, showing a rebound in investment following the financial impact of COVID-19 on clubs, compared to 38, $1 million (2020/21).
Player churn continues to drop following the implementation of a five-year collective bargaining agreement (CCA)
The percentage of players leaving contract at the start of the 2021/22 season was the lowest recorded in eight seasons, falling from 68% last season to 48%. The current contract lengths of Australian A-League Men players are among the highest in comparator leagues in Africa, South America, North America and Asia, and the highest in the region of the AFC.
Click here to download and view the report
PFA co-chief executive Beau Busch said the report underscored the five-year ABC’s positive impact and underscored the resilience of a competition that has been badly affected by COVID-19.
“The objective of the five-year CBA agreement was to provide both a true partnership between players and clubs and, above all, to provide professional gaming with a stable platform to rebuild the industry.
“Encouragingly, we continue to see a series of positive trends in terms of increased investment in players, the emergence of a host of talented players and improved contractual stability.
“While these signs are welcome, much more needs to be done to establish the professional game in this country and this report provides the evidentiary basis to assess our progress as a footballing nation and benchmark us against our international rivals.”
Previous A-League Men’s Reports
About PFA Research
For players, understanding football and the industry they work in is key to building meaningful lives and careers. To help support our players throughout their careers, the PFA conducts regular research to help improve working conditions that not only shape the professional game, but help players make informed decisions about their careers. We believe that a more informed game leads to more impactful football education, analysis and decision-making.