Australian Football united and advances towards a connected Football pyramid with the release of the optimised Domestic Match Calendar for 2021/22

Football Australia today released the Australian Football Domestic Match Calendar 2021/22 (DMC 2021/22), which will commence on 29 October 2021, and conclude on 28 October 2022.  Next season, the start of the Australian football season will be highlighted by the commencement of the A-League season and the FFA Cup Final 2022, being the last match of the domestic Australian football season.

The DMC 2021/22 is an important tool in connecting the domestic football pyramid by further aligning seasons and setting Transfer Windows that are accessible by all the relevant competitions.  It also enables Football Australia and stakeholders to maximise opportunities to grow and develop the game domestically.

  • The Australian football season (29 October 2021 – 28 October 2022) is designed to unite the game at all levels – organising domestic football over 52 weeks
  • For the first time, A-League and Westfield W-League will break for Men’s and Women’s FIFA International Windows
  • ‘Transfer windows’ enable the registration of players for all applicable competitions in alignment with FIFA requirements
  • The Men’s season will commence with the A-League opening the 2021/22 season and finish with the FFA Cup Final as the last match of the season
  • The Women’s season will commence with the Westfield W-League and finish with the NPL Women’s Finals Day
  • NPL competitions to align finish dates across the country to maximise connection with an NPL Finals weekend for NPL Men’s and NPL Women’s respectively
  • A placeholder for the National Second Tier (NST) competition as an important first step towards bringing this competition to life

The DMC 2021/22 contains key features including a defined Australian football season over 52 weeks, allocated season windows that maximise opportunities for elite competitions, and Transfer Windows aligned with FIFA requirements. (Men’s Transfer Windows, 26 July – 18 October 2021 and 14 January – 10 February 2022; Women’s Transfer Windows, 3 August – 25 October 2021 and 15 March – 12 April 2022).

The DMC 2021/22 ensures the integration of Australian football into the global football landscape, by reflecting the FIFA International Match Calendar (IMC) international windows for the National Teams as well as key Asian Football Confederation (AFC) dates.  It also reflects policy with respect to the status of Australia’s top tier club competitions during these national team windows. 

For the first time, Football Australia has reached agreement with the APL that the A-League and Westfield W-League will break for the applicable FIFA Men’s and Women’s International Windows, as specified in the IMC.  Due to the ongoing effects of COVID however, exceptions to this principle will be applied. For the next season, in January 2022, A-League clubs will be able to schedule matches on the weekend of 29 and 30 January that occur during this window (created specifically by FIFA for COVID considerations), however, they will still be required to release players in accordance with FIFA and Football Australia regulations.

MCY A-League

Football Australia CEO James Johnson highlighted the importance of the DMC 2021/22 as a critical initiative and important regulatory function of Football Australia following the unbundling of the Professional Leagues from Football Australia.

“The release of the DMC 2021/22 marks the culmination of an extensive process of dialogue with stakeholders, involving the APL, Member Federations and Professional Footballers Association (PFA).  Developing the DMC 2021/22 in a COVID environment has presented challenges, however the process has underscored the importance of the DMC 2021/22 and the role it plays in bringing all parts of the game together. It builds on last year’s DMC and represents the next phase in the evolution of the Australian football landscape towards more aligned football competitions and a more connected Australian football pyramid. 

Notably, we believe that the DMC 2021/22 places Australian football at its core.  It opens with the commencement of the A-League and concludes with the FFA Cup 2022 Final as the last match of the Football Australia Season – two (2) iconic moments in the season which all fans can look forward to. 

“We have also, for the first time, agreed with the APL that the A-League and Westfield W-League will cease play in FIFA Men’s and Women’s International Windows allowing the football community to focus on key events in the calendar without conflict.   This doesn’t, however, preclude Westfield W-League matches being scheduled during men’s FIFA international windows, nor does it preclude A-League matches being played in women’s FIFA international windows.

“The alignment of finish dates for NPL competitions and the introduction of a finals weekend for NPL competitions across the country (NPL Men’s on 11 September and NPL Women’s on 25 September), is also a significant achievement of the DMC 2021/22.  We believe this helps to lift the profile of the NPL competitions in each Member Federation and will over time, also increase the prestige and value. 

Wollongong Wolves NPL

“The DMC 2021/22 also incorporates a placeholder for a National Second Tier competition (NST), noting that the format of this competition has not yet been finalised. The placeholder is an important first step towards the creation of this competition, allowing for its ongoing development and subject to finalisation of the model, can be adjusted within the DMC framework,” Johnson said.

Sam Ciccarello, President of Football South Australia, and a member of the DMC and NST Working Group, which was established in the first quarter of 2021, applauded the cooperation by all stakeholders to develop a unified and connected DMC 2021/22.

“Having participated in the DMC and NST Working Group alongside other key stakeholders, I applaud everyone’s cooperation and contribution towards this vital initiative.  I am excited with the result in unifying Australian football with an aligned Domestic Match Calendar.  Particularly, I am pleased that the NPL Men’s and NPL Women’s competitions across all our Member Federations have been aligned and connected with other parts of the game and that we have taken the vital first steps towards the National Second Tier with a placeholder for this competition in 2022, as we continue to develop this model and framework,” Ciccarello said.

Managing Director of APL, Danny Townsend, also recognised the value of the DMC 2021/22 and its role in promoting Australia’s professional leagues.

The DMC is the framework for the whole pyramid of football – this announcement is demonstrative of the determination of Football Australia, APL and all the other football stakeholders to achieve outcomes that serve the whole game.

“In this Olympics year, we get to see our young players coming fresh from playing some of the most exciting football in A-League and Westfield W-League history straight into the games in Tokyo, and we are all incredibly proud to see their talent shine on the world stage.

Melbourne Victory W-League

“By reducing the amount of club versus country clashes next season we can build a brighter future for Australian football, with an all-round better football experience for players and for fans,” Townsend said.

PFA Co-Chief Executive Kathryn Gill said the players welcomed the new format of the DMC 2021/22 which would provide players flexibility and certainty to represent club and country.

“The players have long advocated for international windows to be integrated within domestic fixturing, allowing them to play for club and country without interruption, so we welcome the format of the new DMC 2021/22.  The Calendar will help to alleviate pressure on players who may miss vital matches and career opportunities, giving them the opportunity and certainty to represent Australia at the highest level while remaining available for their clubs for critical fixtures in the A-League and Westfield W-League," Gill said.

The DMC 2021/22 may be subject to change by Football Australia to ensure that it is able to adapt to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, the transition to a COVID-safe environment, and as further opportunities and enhancements are identified by Football Australia in consultation and collaboration with stakeholders.

FFA Cup Adelaide United

The DMC 2021/22 will also officially introduce our new media rights partner, 10 ViacomCBS who will be the new ‘Home of Australian Football’ for the Matildas, Socceroos, Westfield W-League, A-League and FFA Cup. Fans can catch all the unstoppable action on Network 10 and Paramount+, which launches on August 11.