The A-League will break for international windows from next season.The A-League will fall into line with all major football competitions from next season and break for FIFA international windows.
The move will see the season shifted back two weeks, beginning in mid-October and finishing in mid-May.
And it’s been met with delight by club coaches, who have long campaigned for the change to avoid player unavailability.
Big-name coaches Kevin Muscat and Graham Arnold are among those who have called for the A-League to close down during World Cup qualifying and international friendlies.
Muscat saw several players depart on national team duty this season, while Arnold – set to take on the Socceroos job after the season – has previously intimated the rule prevented him signing internationally involved players.
However the biggest winner from the move could be Wellington Phoenix.
New Zealand’s sole professional outfit has long been filled with All Whites and international breaks have left the club bereft of senior players.
That will end from next season, with windows in October, November and March to be recognised.
There is however an exception for the month-long Asian Cup.
The A-League will continue unabated through January, when the Socceroos look to defend their title in the United Arab Emirates.
FFA chief executive David Gallop said the move was brokered with broadcasters Fox Sports.
“We have been conscious always of the need to balance the benefits of week to week continuity in the league against the benefits of stopping for international breaks,” he said.
“After extensive discussions with the clubs and with Fox Sports over recent weeks we have all agreed to incorporate the international breaks.”
With the season remaining the same length, more mid-week matches seem inevitable to incorporate the move.
An FFA spokesperson said league chiefs would also seek to retain flexibility for clubs competing in the Asian Champions League, which has been appreciated by Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory this season.
O’Rourke said a further decision would come regarding women’s football, with two international breaks scheduled during the W-League season.
Australian Associated Press