For at least the next few weeks, the six teams in NSW – Sydney FC, Western Sydney, Macarthur FC, Central Coast, Newcastle and the Wollongong-based Wellington Phoenix – will play games against each other.
It’s likewise for the six teams in other states, who can travel to face each another with no issues.
It means Sunday’s double-header at Bankwest Stadium – the first time the A-League and W-League seasons have been launched simultaneously – will still go ahead as predicted. The only change is that the Wanderers will meet Sydney FC rather than Melbourne Victory in the W-League, before A-League new boys Macarthur FC lock horns with their nearest rivals, Western Sydney, in their first official match.
Sydney FC’s A-League opener – instead of a grand final rematch against Melbourne City – will be a showdown with the Phoenix at WIN Stadium on January 2, while there is only one men’s Sydney derby slated to be played next month – on Saturday, January 16 at ANZ Stadium.
The NSW government is yet to announce any changes to restrictions on crowd capacities at stadiums, but it’s anticipated they will be wound back in the coming days.
“We gained a significant amount of knowledge from the staging of the 2019/20 season which enabled us to move quickly and respond to these latest changes,” said Greg O’Rourke, the head of the A-League and W-League.
“We’ve mapped out the next month in light of the latest restrictions, and our focus remains on delivering the best possible football experience for every one of our 218 games between now and June 2021.
“We’re five days out from the start of an historic season and we are all ready for the summer of football to begin.”
The A-League season must be completed by the end of June, in line with the current broadcast deal with Fox Sports, but administrators are confident of being able to do so.
Only a revised first round of the W-League season – which, in contrast to the men’s league, has only three NSW-based teams – has been released, with more fixture changes to be released in the coming days.