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The eight founding teams for the league were Adelaide United, Central Coast Mariners, Melbourne Victory, Newcastle Jets, New Zealand Knights, Perth Glory, Queensland Roar and Sydney FC, with three former NSL clubs taking part, those being Adelaide United, Newcastle Jets and Perth Glory, as well as Queensland Roar and New Zealand Knights who were formed from NSL clubs Brisbane Lions and New Zealand Football Kingz.
Each club was given a five-year exclusivity deal in its own market as part of the league's "one-city, one-team" policy.
The A-League was established in 2004 as a successor to the National Soccer League (NSL) and competition commenced in August 2005.
The finals series culminates to the A-League Grand Final, where the winner is crowned A-League Champion and receives a place in the AFC Champions League.
Since the league's inaugural season, a total of six clubs have been crowned A-League Premiers and five clubs have been crowned A-League Champions.
The current premier and champion is Sydney FC, who finished first in the 2016–17 league season and won the 2017 A-League Grand Final.
The Finals Series runs over three weeks, with all games being sudden death, leading to a sudden-death Grand Final to decide the overall A-League competition.
The first and second placed teams at the conclusion of the Regular Season are rewarded with a bye in the first week of the Finals Series and the advantage of hosting each of their semi-finals in the second week of the Finals Series.