W-League (Australia)

The W-League is the top-division women's soccer league in Australia. The W-League was established in 2008 by Football Federation Australia and was composed of eight teams of which seven had an affiliation with an A-League club, and the other was a new entity based in Canberra. The league is currently contested by nine teams. The competition is known as the Westfield W-League through a sponsorship arrangement with the Westfield Group.

Founded25 October 2008 (25 October 2008)
First season2008–09
Country Australia
ConfederationAFC (Asia)
Number of teams9
Level on pyramid1
Current championsSydney FC (3rd title)
Current premiersMelbourne Victory (1st title)
Most championshipsMelbourne City (3 titles)
Sydney FC (3 titles)
Most premiershipsBrisbane Roar
Canberra United (3 titles)
TV partnersABC
Fox Sports
2019–20 W-League

Seasons typically run from November to February and include a 12-round regular season and an end-of-season finals series playoff tournament involving the highest-placed teams, culminating in a Grand Final match. The winner of the regular season tournament is dubbed 'Premier' and the winner of the grand final is 'Champion'. Since the league's inaugural season, a total of five clubs have been crowned W-League Premiers and five clubs have been crowned W-League Champions.

Melbourne Victory are the current Premiers, while Sydney FC are the current Champions, having won a record-equalling three Grand Finals.


Between 1996–2004 the Women's National Soccer League (WNSL) was Australia's top women's association football league. In 2004 it was discontinued alongside the men's National Soccer League.

After Australia qualified for the quarter-finals of the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup, head coach Tom Sermanni felt the establishment of a professional league was vital for continuing the development of players.[1] Football Federation Australia established the league the following year.[2] The W-League was initially composed of eight teams: Adelaide United, Brisbane Roar, Central Coast Mariners, Melbourne Victory, Newcastle Jets, Perth Glory, and Sydney FC. Seven of the eight teams were affiliated with A-League clubs, and shared their names and colours to promote their brands. The eighth club was Canberra United.[3]

The W-League's inaugural season commenced on 25 October 2008, with Perth hosting Sydney at Members Equity Stadium.[4] After ten rounds, the regular season finished with Queensland Roar as the top-placed team, becoming the first W-League premiers, and advancing to the semi-finals along with the second-, third- and fourth-placed teams. Queensland faced Canberra in the 2009 W-League Grand Final, defeating them 2–0 to take the champions trophy.

Central Coast Mariners were forced to withdraw from the 2010–11 season due to a lack of funding and have yet to return.[5]

When Western Sydney Wanderers joined the A-League for the 2012–13 season, they also entered a team into the W-League, returning the competition to eight teams. From 2012 to 2014, the W-League champion team qualified into an international competition, the International Women's Club Championship.

On 13 May 2015, Melbourne City were confirmed to compete in the W-League from the 2015–16 season.[6] The club had a remarkable inaugural season, winning all 12 of its regular season games and winning the Grand Final.[7]

From the inception of the competition the league was run by Football Federation Australia, the governing body for the sport in Australia. In July 2019, the FFA relinquished operational control of the league to each of the clubs, represented by the Australian Professional Football Clubs Association.[8]

Competition format

The W-League regular season typically runs from November to February and consists of 12 games per team, with the highest ranked team winning the title of "Premier".[9] The top four teams in the regular season then advance to the single-game knockout semifinals, with the Champion determined by the victor of the Grand Final.[10]


Current clubs
Team Location Stadium Capacity Founded Joined Head coach Captain
Adelaide United Adelaide, South Australia Adelaide Shores Football Centre
Marden Sports Complex
2008 2008 Ivan Karlovic Emma Checker
Brisbane Roar Brisbane, Queensland Perry Park
Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre
A.J. Kelly Park
Suncorp Stadium
2008 2008 Jake Goodship Clare Polkinghorne
Canberra United Canberra, ACT McKellar Park
Deakin Stadium
2008 2008 Heather Garriock Ellie Brush
Melbourne City Melbourne CB Smith Reserve
2015 2015 Rado Vidošić Stephanie Catley
Melbourne Victory Melbourne Lakeside Stadium
Kingston Heath Soccer Complex
Broadmeadows Valley Park
Marvel Stadium
2008 2008 Jeff Hopkins Natasha Dowie
Newcastle Jets Newcastle, New South Wales Wanderers Oval
Adamstown Oval
2008 2008 Craig Deans Gema Simon
Perth Glory Perth, Western Australia HBF Park
Dorrien Gardens
2008 2008 Bobby Despotovski Samantha Kerr
Sydney FC Sydney Jubilee Stadium
Leichhardt Oval
Seymour Shaw Park
Cromer Park
2008 2008 Ante Juric Teresa Polias
Western Sydney Wanderers Sydney Marconi Stadium
Campbelltown Stadium
2012 2012 Dan Barrett Erica Halloway
Former clubs
Team Location Stadium Capacity Founded Joined Dissolved Last head coach Last captain
Central Coast Mariners Gosford, NSW Central Coast Stadium 20,059 2008 2008 2009 Stephen Roche Caitlin Cooper


Squad formation and salaries

A W-League squad is required to have a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 26 players. Players typically receive a one-season contract, with many playing in leagues in other countries during the W-League's off-season. Due to the W-League's season running during the off-season of several leagues around the world, many foreign players have played for teams in the W-League and vice versa.

In 2015, teams in the W-League had a salary cap of A$150,000.[11] Individual player salaries vary, with one player reporting to The Sydney Morning Herald in 2012 that whilst some players earn $10,000, others earn nothing.[12] In 2014, it was reported that Sydney FC players were paid salaries ranging from $1,000 to $6,000.[13] Players can also earn money playing overseas and may therefore be considered by Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) as professional.[14]

Some clubs are owned by their state football associations including Adelaide United and Newcastle Jets.

For the 2017–18 season a minimum salary was introduced at A$10,000. The average salary therefore rose from A$15,500 to A$17,400. A salary cap was set at A$300,000.[15]


The 2018-19 season marked the first time that fans would be able to watch every W-League game. All matches will be broadcast or streamed on Fox Sports, SBS Viceland and the My Football Live app. Thursday Night Football was also introduced, meaning 13 stand-alone regular season matches will be played in prime-time and broadcast live on Fox Sports.[16] The Football Federation Australia (FFA) reached a deal with ESPN+ for broadcast rights to W-League games in the United States. ESPN+ will carry at least 17 W-League matches in the 2018-19 season.[17] For the first time ever W-League games would be broadcast on YouTube and Twitter in territories without a traditional broadcast partner.[18] Since July 2019, Foxtel has broadcast all matches and ABC has broadcast one match per round live on its primary channel.[19]


The W-League features Women Referees and Assistant Referees from Australia. Current referees include:


W-League Major Trophy Winners
Season Premiers (regular season winners) Champions (Grand Final winners)
2008–09 Queensland Roar Queensland Roar
2009 Sydney FC Sydney FC
2010–11 Sydney FC Brisbane Roar
2011–12 Canberra United Canberra United
2012–13 Brisbane Roar Sydney FC
2013–14 Canberra United Melbourne Victory
2014 Perth Glory Canberra United
2015–16 Melbourne City Melbourne City
2016–17 Canberra United Melbourne City
2017–18 Brisbane Roar Melbourne City
2018–19 Melbourne Victory Sydney FC

Queensland Roar changed their name to Brisbane Roar for the 2009 season.


Most Appearances

As of 16 February 2019 (end of 2018-19 post-season).[21] Players listed in bold are still active.

1 Teresa Polias 130
2 Clare Polkinghorne 128
3 Tameka Yallop 118
4 Laura Alleway 117
5 Marianna Tabain 116
6 Caitlin Cooper 115
Michelle Heyman
Gema Simon
9 Ellie Brush 113
Stephanie Catley

Top Scorers

As of 16 February 2019 (end of 2018-19 post-season).[22] Players listed in bold are still active.

1 Samantha Kerr 70
2 Michelle Heyman 63
3 Tameka Yallop 52
4 Kyah Simon 44
5 Kate Gill 42
6 Ashleigh Sykes 41
7 Leena Khamis 40
8 Lisa De Vanna 39
9 Emily Gielnik 33
10 Caitlin Foord 32

See also


  1. Grainey, Tim (26 November 2013). "Grainey: A closer look at the Westfield W-League". Equalizer Soccer. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  2. "Women in a league of their own". Football Federation Australia. 28 July 2008.
  3. "W-League to debut in October". Fox Sports. 28 July 2008. Archived from the original on 6 August 2008. Retrieved 28 July 2008.
  4. "Girls shop to the top". FourFourTwo. 28 July 2008. Retrieved 28 July 2008.
  5. "Statement regarding Westfield W-League". Central Coast Mariners. 29 July 2010. Archived from the original on 28 February 2011. Retrieved 29 July 2010.
  6. Hytner, Mike (13 May 2015). "Melbourne City FC to field a W-League side next season". The Guardian.
  7. "Melbourne City crown perfect season with W-League grand final win over Sydney FC". The Age. 31 January 2016.
  8. "FFA reaches in principle agreement for independent A-League". The Roar. 2 July 2019.
  9. "W-LEAGUE". Soccer Way. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  10. "Westfield W-League fixtures and results". Football Federation Australia. Archived from the original on 14 December 2013. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  11. "Fairer wages for women to dominate CBA talks". theworldgame.sbs.com.au. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  12. "W-League 2013: Melissa Barbieri has to sell possessions to play". smh.com.au. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  13. "You can't accuse Sydney FC's W-League team of doing it for anything other than the glory". dailytelegraph.com.au. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  14. Scanlon, Jill (20 October 2015). "The W-League Will Be Looking To Follow The Matildas Pay Deal Path". Huffington Post. Retrieved 9 November 2015. While this is not a full-time professional workload wage, the women can also earn money playing overseas and are therefore considered by the PFA to be categorised as professional.
  15. "W-League players to get huge pay increase for new season". espnfc.com. 11 September 2017. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  16. "Fans able to watch every match of the Westfield W-League 2018/19 Season". 5 September 2018. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  17. "ESPN+ Acquires Broadcast Rights to Westfield W-League in the United States". 10 August 2018. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  18. "Fans in more corners of the globe set to watch Australian football this season". 18 October 2018. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  19. "ABC strikes deal with FFA to become free-to-air home of football in Australia". ABC News. 3 October 2019.
  20. "Kate Jacewicz to referee the Westfield W-League 2019 Grand Final". Football Federation Australia. 13 February 2019. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  21. "Australia W-League Women All-time appearances 1-50". www.worldfootball.net. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  22. "Australia W-League Women All-time Topscorers Rank 1-50". www.worldfootball.net. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
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