The season draw for the 2009/10 A-League season was released on Monday (mirrored here) and contains a few surprises, which I’ll comment on a little later. The main problem I have with the draw is that Sydney won’t host Melbourne until the final week (round 27, February 14th 2010) of the competition. This might not be such an issue but the last time this grudge match was played in Sydney was round 1 of season 2008/09 (August 16th 2008). This is an awfully long absence for such a significant meeting.
Another talking point in the draw is the moving of several games to alternate venues – in some cases to avoid clashes and in others to presumably spread the love a little wider. Sydney, for example, will move one match to the SCG and another to Parramatta Stadium to due scheduling conflicts at the SFS. Another example is Wellington, which is moving a match to Palmerston North and another to Christchurch.
The finals series also undergoes some changes, with six (count ’em) teams now qualifying. The one saving grace is that teams 3 through 6 on the ladder are essentially "wildcards" who will face one-off knockout matches if they wish to progress. The graphic below shows the new structure: