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A-League draw flexible around ACL calendar

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/06/2017 Emma Kemp

Australia's Asian Champions League entrants will no longer be left in the lurch thanks to a flexible A-League draw that can be moulded around moveable AFC fixtures.

Next season's draw includes an extra split round to help Sydney FC, Melbourne Victory and, possibly, Brisbane, meet the demands of contesting Asia's premier tournament on top of domestic commitments.

Last season Football Federation Australia trialled one split round to help ease the burden of long-haul travel and bunched-up fixtures.

But its purpose became lost when the AFC altered its schedule long after the A-League draw was released.

It left Western Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane playing their ACL games before their weekend off, dealing with injuries and suffering heavy defeats that prompted Fox Sports commentators to label one such night as the "darkest day in Australian club football".

In 2017-18, the three teams will have two weekends off - one in mid-February and another in early March.

"It's to allow the three ACL contenders - or at least the two known in Victory and Sydney - to really represent Australia in a way that we were criticised, frankly, in the previous seasons for not really making it to easy for them to showcase Australia on the Asian stage," A-League chief Greg O'Rourke said.

Further to that, O'Rourke committed to reissuing the A-League draw should the ACL calendar change again.

"Because last year the ACL draw shifted a week and wasn't lined up with the split rounds we'd published," he said.

"So we're reserving the right to move our split rounds should the ACL fixtures move."

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