The A-League Men is presently competed by 12 teams, eleven of which are Australian and one of which is New Zealand. In the league’s brief existence, 15 teams have participated at some point. Only four of these clubs operated before the formation of the A-League in 2004: Adelaide United, Brisbane Roar (as the Queensland Lions), Newcastle Jets, and Perth Glory. The league has formerly included Gold Coast United, the New Zealand Knights, and the North Queensland Fury. Unlike other companies throughout the world, there is no structure for team promotion and relegation. As a result, the Australian soccer league structure shares certain franchising aspects with the majority of other pro leagues in Australia, Major League Soccer, and other major Northern American-based sports organisations.
While starting small to preserve future sustainability, both the FFA and the football media expressed strong interest in growing the league. The eight founder clubs had five-year exclusive contracts for their individual locations, although this did not prevent teams from other places from entering the league. Officials stated in February 2018 that the competition would expand to 12 clubs for the 2019-20 season. The FFA announced in December 2018 that they had approved bids from Western United, who will join the league in the 2019-20 campaign, and Macarthur FC, who will join the league in the 2020-21 season.
The Australia A league game lineup consists of the standard 11 players and five replacements, one of whom must be a goalie. Prior to the 2013-14 season, only four replacements, including one goalie, may be named to the clubs’ starting lineups. An A-League team must include at least 20 players and a maximum of 26, according to several restrictions. A limit of five “foreign” or “Visa” players outside of Australia (and New Zealand, in the case of the Wellington Phoenix) may be included in the roster. Three members of the team must also be under the age of 20. In contrast to these three under-20 players, teams are permitted to recruit three more youth players to proper contracts at a lower wage rate than the rest of the team.
Since the league’s inception, teams have been permitted to sign one foreign marquee player. Since the 2008-09 campaign, A-League teams have been allowed to sign a youth marquee player who is under the age of 23. The ‘Homegrown Player Allowance’ allows teams to spend up to $150,000 on three Australian players aged 23 or under who have gone through the club’s junior system. Beginning with the 2015-16 campaign, players who have been with their club for 5-10 seasons will be eligible for a “loyalty player allowance,” which would exclude up to $200,000 of their pay from the quota. In addition, teams can now sign a mature-age rookie whose earnings exceed the salary ceiling.