Who will win the second the A-Leagues Club Championship?
The Club Championship was launched last year – a ladder combining the results from clubs who are in both the Isuzu UTE A-League, and the Liberty A-League.
Melbourne City were crowned inaugural champions with 79 points, 13 clear of Sydney FC thanks to their A-League Men premiers and their Liberty A-League side finishing second in the regular-season standings.
As it stands, City are on track to retain their crown in 2022-23.
Rado Vidosic’s City are nine points clear atop the Isuzu UTE A-League, while Dario Vidosic’s side are third in the Liberty A-League behind league-leading Western United.
“I think when you look at the positive influence it can have on the leagues, it means every match is going to have more meaning,” A-Leagues CEO Danny Townsend said on the Official A-Leagues Podcast last season.
“As you get toward the end of the men’s season, the last game of the season may be a three points that enables one of the clubs to take out the A-Leagues Club Championship.
“There’s a lot of different reasons why we introduced it, I think it’s going to be a really welcome addition to trophy cabinets around the country and I think that in time it will build in prestige.”
He added: “We got a letter from FIFA after we announced it saying ‘wow, this is a first in world football that the competitions are coming together to deliver a club championship’.”
The Club Championship won’t just add more meaning and context to fixtures in both competitions deep into the campaign, but will also make it easier for A-Leagues supporters to follow both of their clubs’ sides.
“I think for us, one of the things we wanted to look at was: how do we make every game more meaningful, and how do we get our fans equally interested in both teams in the club?
“When you look at club football, supporters will say they’re a Western Sydney Wanderers fan, or a Melbourne Victory fan; they’re fans of the club.
“We want their behaviour to reflect that, and put as much interest and emphasis on the men’s competition as they do the women’s.
The Club Championship is about that – it’s about crowning Australia’s best professional football club, and that’s a piece of silverware every football fan should be after.
He continued: “It’s also about things off the field as well, ensuring clubs look at the way in which they resource their teams with a greater degree of equality.
“This is all about driving to that piece of equality we committed to in the CBA working closely with the PFA. This is another reason to ensure that clubs are providing equality as it comes to the resources made available to both teams.”
He concluded: “At the end of the day it’s a bit like the constructors championship in Formula 1.
You can’t have one great driver and not care about the other car, to win that trophy you’ve got to be the best across both. I think that’s what we envisage the A-Leagues Club Championship will bring to professional football.
While any new concept takes time to embed in a sporting consciousness, Townsend aspires to the day that the Club Championship is actually the most coveted trophy in the domestic football landscape.
“I’d love to see that,” he enthused.
“The reason we brought it in was for that reason, we don’t see this as being another nice to have piece of silverware, I think as fans of all clubs you should be wanting your club to be the number one club in everything you do.
“That means winning men’s trophies, women’s trophies, youth trophies, and ultimately we’d love to weave the A-Leagues youth competition into it when we finalise the format for that.”