Message from outgoing Australian Professional Leagues chair Paul Lederer

In the last two and a half years, the Australian Professional Leagues have undergone an extraordinary transformation.

This year has been one of the most extraordinary for football in Australia and New Zealand. In the past 12 months we have watched two World Cups featuring more A-Leagues players than ever before, including the FIFA Women’s World Cup hosted here on home soil and watched by almost 2 million fans in stadiums across the two countries. 

On the broadest of global stages our local heroes stood tall. The successes of the Australian national teams on that world stage were delivered by 46 players, 43 of whom were developed here in the Isuzu UTE A-League Men and the Liberty A-League Women. 

This is not an accident. It is the direct result of investments over many years by our clubs with a vision of a thriving league where fans can watch fast-paced and exciting football, and where Subways Socceroos and CommBank Matildas are made. As we strive to create an ever more professional environment for our footballers in the Liberty A-League it’s gratifying to see players such as Cortnee Vine, Kyah Simon and Lydia Williams headline this season  after their incredible World Cup performances. 

Very soon, we will have men’s and women’s teams in every single one of our A-Leagues clubs. That means that grassroots players, boys and girls, can share the same dream of playing for their local team, and going on to represent their country. 

This message was originally produced in the APL Annual Report, which you can access here.

We have witnessed the fruits of our investments in our national teams, and we have also woken the global football economy to the strength of the A-Leagues and of Australian football. This year, transfer fee records were broken in a single transfer window thanks to the international interest in academy products like Sammy Silvera, Jordan Bos, Anthony Pavlosic, Marco Tilio and Tom Glover.

It is vital that we continue to support our players’ journeys overseas, and equally vital that we are a destination of choice for local and international players. 

Next season we will add new clubs in both Australia and in New Zealand, with further expansion planned in the following year, creating more opportunities for players, more competitiveness, and more compelling drama for our fans. 

In the last two and a half years, the Australian Professional Leagues have undergone an extraordinary transformation and I formally step down as Chair of the APL board with endless pride atthe foundations which have been built, and gratitude to my fellow board members and to our talented management team. 

The environment has never been more exciting for football, and I welcome the Hon Stephen Conroy as the first ever Independent Chair of the APL. I look forward to working with Stephen, a deeply passionate football fan and highly experienced political operator.