A-League fixture confirmed: Melbourne Derby to open season
The Melbourne derby highlights round one of this season's A-League, which includes earlier family-friendly timeslots.
But there's still no guarantee the competition will be seen on free-to-air television as league chiefs negotiate broadcasting rights.
On Thursday, FFA finally released the draw for the 2019-20 competition which will include an 11th team -- Western United.
Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City will be led by new coaches Marco Kurz and Erick Mombaerts respectively in the season's first derby on Saturday, Oct. 12.
A day earlier, Adelaide United hosts Sydney FC in the first game of the season at Coopers Stadium.
Western United begin life with a trip to Wellington Phoenix on Sunday, Oct. 13.
They will host their first match a week later against reigning premiers Perth Glory on Saturday, Oct. 19 at Geelong's GMHBA Stadium. The Grand Final will be played on May 16 or 17.
FFA are billing the new Victorian outfit and Western Sydney's new home ground Bankwest Stadium as the chief reasons for excitement. Western United's inclusion -- part of a push towards 14, and then 16 teams -- adds a bye.
Every side will play each other home and away, with six further fixtures to make a 26-match season before the finals.
This methodology means the biggest fixtures -- including the derbies and Big Blues -- will be played three times a season, without blowing out the campaign.
"The question was about how, how is it best to be fair and equitable?" A-League chief Greg O'Rourke said.
"There were a lot of conversations about how to do that, benchmarking from other codes.
"What we said was we'll have opponent match-up weightings [combined with] marquee games without making it too lopsided."
Simon Pearce, Melbourne City executive and A-League club representative, said the fixture struck the right balance.
"Integrity has been maintained and so has the opportunity to create the best outcome commercially from the league and also from a fan enjoyment perspective," he said.
"It's a hell of a job ... particularly in a transition year because we're going to 11 [teams] and we're going to 12. And hopefully we're going up further."
O'Rourke said he was still hopeful of attracting a free-to-air broadcast partner to work with Fox Sports.
"We are still working towards a free-to-air deal but there's still a lot of work to be done," he said.
In other changes to the draw, the A-League will play through international windows, with clubs allowed to request rescheduling if two or more senior internationals are called up.
Midweek matches have been otherwise banished as O'Rourke said "no one was enjoying" them.
Kickoff times have been shifted earlier in response to broadcast and fan feedback.
A standard night match will kickoff at 7.30 p.m., with Sunday matches to be played at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.