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A-League Women announces extended seasons and more clubs over next two years

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As Australian football continues to reckon with its changing position in the international pecking-order, the A-League Women’s competition — the highest-profile platform for the country’s emerging talent — has taken a much-needed leap to try to halt the slide.

On Wednesday, the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) announced a two-year women’s football strategy that will see Australia’s top-flight women’s league brought into line with the global benchmark, progressively extending the ALW season and adding more clubs as they build towards a fully-professional, full-time women’s competition.

Players have been calling for an extension to the ALW season for several years, in order to keep up with the rest of the world.(AAP: Brendon Thorne)

The upcoming 2022-23 ALW season is set to kick off on November 18, with 20 rounds contested by 11 teams — after the introduction of Western United — over the course of six months, culminating in a grand final on the last weekend of April.

COVID-19 protocols permitting, 18 of those rounds will be played over weekends, while two will be scheduled mid-week to coincide with school holidays.

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The league will also pause for international windows for the first time, allowing ALW clubs to release national team players and, subsequently, to work with Football Australia (FA) to coordinate content and engagement strategies across both domestic and international levels of the game.

While the 20-round season is not quite the full home-and-away calendar that many fans and players had been asking for, the APL have confirmed that the following season will be extended to the full, 22 rounds (132 total matches), bringing the league into line with many top-flight women’s competitions elsewhere in the world.

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