A-League, W-League 2021-22 season pushed back in bid to ease COVID-19 restrictions

The A-League's 2021-22 season will not kickoff until Nov. 19, with organisers postponing the start of Australia's top-flight in the hope COVID-19 restrictions will ease across the country.

The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) added on Thursday that the professional women's competition, the W-League, was also postponed to a Dec. 3 start.

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The league had planned for an Oct. 30 start but Australia's two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, remain locked down as authorities grapple with a third wave of COVID-19 infections.

The first part of the season will be based on a conference system with five New South Wales state-based clubs and New Zealand's Wellington Phoenix playing each other in the opening six rounds.

The remaining Melbourne-based clubs as well as Adelaide United, Perth Glory and Brisbane will battle in the other conference, with most games played in southern Victoria state,

APL said subsequent fixtures would be confirmed later, with the expectation that COVID-19 restrictions, including caps on crowds and travel curbs, will ease by the end of the year.

"The dates we chose to start the seasons were driven by vaccination progress," APL Leagues Commissioner Greg O'Rourke said.

"By the time we kick off, most of the states should have 80% double vaccination rates or be very close, which on the basis of the national plan should see crowds start to return, borders become navigable and quarantine requirements mitigated."

The postponement means the league will run through to May 28, 2022, with the champions decided in the usual "Grand Final" match at the end of the playoffs.

A-League champions Melbourne City open the season at home against Brisbane Roar on Nov. 19.