Tiers – Hyundai A-League.
Cup competitions – The Australian Cup and The Pre-Season Cup.
Other competitions – Finals Series.
The A-League is one of the youngest leagues in the world having only been formed in 2004 (the first season being played in 2005-06). It’s not the first attempt at bringing football to the country however, though the financial backing suggests that this latest incarnation has a better chance of success than previous versions.
The A-League is made up of eight clubs who play each other three times between late-August and mid-January. There are no restrictions on the number of foreign players allowed in the squad but you should bear in mind the following rules when buying/selling players:
* Salary cap – the total expenditure for the squad (ignoring the highest paid player) must remain below this figure (which changes each year)
* Squad size – the number of players each club may employ is restricted (this figure rises for a number of seasons)
* Youth players – each club’s squad must comprise a number of players under the age of 20 (once more this changes from season to season)
Four substitutes may be named in the match day squad though only three may be used. Transfers may be conducted between the 1st of June and the 31st of July and during the month of November.
Points are awarded in the standard way (3 for a win, 1 for a draw) with tied teams being split based on the following criteria:
* Goal difference
* Goals scored
* Head to head results
At the end of the season the top four teams qualify for the Finals Series. At present no clubs are relegated from the A-League.
Any player being shown either four yellow cards or a single red card will suffer a one match ban. After the initial four yellow cards, each subsequent set of three yellows will carry a one match ban.
The Finals Series takes place after the regular season ends and takes the form of a knock-out competition. The competition begins with two semi-finals between the teams finishing third and fourth (Minor Semi-Final) and the teams finishing first and second (Major Semi-Final). Both are two-legged events and both allow for the naming of five substitutes. Away goals are used to separate teams tied after 90 minutes (and again after extra-time if applicable) of the second-leg. Should a tie still exist then the games progress to penalty-kicks.
The winner of the Major Semi-Final progresses to the Grand Final (and guarantees home advantage for that match) while the loser faces the winner of the Minor Semi-Final in the Preliminary Final. The Preliminary Final is a one-off match and extra-time and penalties are used to determine a winner when necessary.
The Grand Final sees the winner of the Preliminary Final take on the winner of the Major Semi-Final in a one-off match. Once more extra-time and penalties are used to decide the match should it end a draw.
The Pre-Season Cup is a curtain raiser for the Australian domestic season and takes place throughout July and early-August. The tournament splits the eight A-League clubs into two groups of four teams where each club plays the rest of their group once as well as one team from the other group. Standard A-League rules apply in terms of squad selection, awarding of points and separating tied teams. The disciplinary situation is slightly different however, with a one-match ban following five yellow cards as opposed to four. Subsequent sets of three yellow cards also result in a one-match ban. The first two red cards a player is shown will also carry a one-match ban but each subsequent red card carries a two-match ban.
After each team has played its four games the top two teams from each group progress to the Semi-Finals while the other four clubs face a play-off match against the team occupying the same position as them in the group (i.e. bottom plays bottom while third-place plays third-place). The Play-Off and Semi-Final games are simple one-off matches which follow normal Australian match rules and are decided by extra time and penalties if need be. For the teams taking part in the Play-Off (and the losers of the Semi-Final) the tournament ends here. The Final is another one-off game decided by extra-time and penalties in the event of a draw.
Points are awarded for results differently. You get 1 bonus point for each goal scored above 2. This may have changed since FM08.
From the A-League website Rules section (here):
The following points will be awarded for matches in the Group Phase: (doesn’t say anything about bonus points, so may have been dropped)
a) win 3 points
b) draw 1 point
c) loss 0 points
The Club that will have the option to host 2008 Pre-Season Final will be determined
based on the following criteria:
a) highest number of points accumulated in the Group Phase;
b) highest goal difference in the Group Phase;
c) highest number of goals scored in the Group Phase;
d) lowest number of red cards accumulated in the Group Phase;
e) lowest number of yellow cards accumulated in the Group Phase;
f) toss of a coin.
For all matches played during the 2008 Pre-Season Cup and the Hyundai A-League
2008/09 Regular Season, a maximum of four (4) Players may be selected as
substitutes, including one (1) nominated goalkeeper.
For all matches played during the 2008 Pre-Season Cup, up to a maximum of four (4) players (including a goalkeeper) may be replaced at any time during a match, up until the conclusion of normal playing time or extra time, if played. The replacement player must be one of the substitutes selected on the Starting List as directed above.
The nominated substitute goalkeeper may only take the field in place of the starting
goalkeeper, and play as a goalkeeper.
They are also allowed to field up to 3 players on trial at the club.
The Australian Cup is a relatively simply affair with the rules remaining the same for each round up to and including the Semi-Final. Thirty-two clubs line up in the First Round with the lower league club being guaranteed home advantage. Matches are one-offs with extra-time and penalties separating tied teams. Clubs may name four substitutes in the match day squad and three of these may be brought onto the field of play. Players face a one-match ban for every two yellow cards they receive. The first red card carries a one-match ban while any subsequent reds will result in a two-match ban.
The only way the Final differs from these rules is that the teams are allowed to name five substitutes.
Additional information: TomTwice