Australia's A-League Men has introduced two-legged semi-finals for the championship playoffs for the 2021-22 season, with the aim of giving more of an advantage to the teams that finish first and second in the league after the regular season.
In line with Australia's other football codes, the A-League championship title is decided by a Grand Final after a playoff series featuring the top six teams in the regular season standings.
The top two have always enjoyed some advantage over the other four teams in the playoffs, but A-League boss Greg O'Rourke said the two-legged semi-finals would further incentivise a high finish.
"The new format rewards the sides that finish first and second by eliminating the one-off semi-finals, and it rewards the fans who we know love finals football," O'Rourke said in a news release.
The four-week playoffs will commence in early May, with the Grand Final scheduled for May 28.
After the past two seasons were heavily disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, hopes are high that open borders between the states, and crowds returning to sporting events, will allow a more settled campaign.
The start of the season was pushed back from Oct. 30, with the first six rounds to be played in two conferences -- with six teams in New South Wales and six around Victoria, South Australia and Queensland.
"This season is a landmark moment for football in Australia," O'Rourke said.
"After the excitement of last season generated by a new wave of Australian talent, we think the new campaign promises to deliver even more captivating drama for supporters and viewers."