Professional Footballers Australia (PFA), the body that represents professional male, female and elite junior soccer players, has officially released its annual A-League Men Report for the 2021/22 season.
The report revealed that the A-Leagues men’s competition has rebounded from the financial impact of COVID-19 due to an increase in investment from clubs, improved player contract stability and a sustained focus on youth development.
These are among the key findings in the PFA’s annual A-League Men Report, which provides an overview of the 2021/22 campaign and assesses the employment framework and workplace conditions for Australia’s professional footballers.
With the 2022/23 season beginning next week, the Report indicates that the A-League Men competition has solid foundations to build and capitalise upon.
The report identifies that the A-League Men leads all rival Asian Football Confederation (AFC) domestic competitions for fielding players aged 21 or under and sits eighth on a list of 60 leagues from around the world. The League’s average age has been the lowest in competition history during the past three seasons, dropping from an average of 27 to 25. Across the season, 42% of match minutes available were occupied by players under 25.
In addition, the A-League Men is the most competitively balanced league in the Asian Football Confederation. The A-League Men has the closest level of quality among its 12 teams and the tightest points spread recorded in the past decade, delivering more competitive tension within matches and across the season than any other top Asian league.
Clubs invested $52m in A-League Men player payments in the 2021/22 season, demonstrating a rebound in investment following the financial impact of COVID-19 on clubs, up from $38.1m (2020/21).
Moreover, the percentage of players coming off contract at the start of the 2021/22 season was the lowest recorded in eight seasons, decreasing from 68% last season to 48%. The current contract length of Australian players in the A-League Men is among the highest in comparator leagues from Africa, South America, North America and Asia, and the highest in the AFC region.
PFA Co-Chief Executive Beau Busch explained the report underlined the positive impact of the five-year CBA and underlined the resilience of a competition that was severely impacted by COVID-19.
“The objective of agreeing to a five-year CBA was to provide both a genuine partnership between the players and the clubs and crucially to provide the professional game with a stable platform to rebuild the industry,” Busch said in a statement.
“Encouragingly, we continue to see a range of positive trends in relation to increased investment in players, the emergence of a host of talented players and improved contractual stability.
“Whilst these are welcomed signs, there remains much to do to establish the professional game in this country and this report provides the evidential basis to assess our progress as a football nation and benchmark ourselves against our international rivals.”
Click here to download and view the Report.