The W-League will expand from nine to 12 teams by 2023 in a bid to capitalise on the looming Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, but questions remain on how the new club championship will affect Canberra United.
Wellington Phoenix, Central Coast and Western United will all receive W-League licences over the next two years, in the first expansion since Melbourne City joined in 2015.
The four-team W-League finals series will also be expanded to three weeks this season, adding a preliminary final, and the introduction of a new A-League/W-League club championship trophy to try and bring club support across both leagues.
Australian Professional Leagues managing director Danny Townsend emphasised their commitment to independent club Canberra United, with details of how the new club championship would affect the stand alone W-League side yet to be ironed out.
The 2021-22 regular season will remain at 12 rounds - with the 10th team replacing the 'bye' - but Townsend said adding teams would get the league "on that path" to a full home-and-away season.
He said the "likely scenario" was one team would join for the upcoming season with the other two to enter before 2022-23.
"[The World Cup's] 30 days in 2023 - it doesn't deliver you everything. You need to work around it and you have to invest in it ahead of time to ensure the halo effect of that fantastic event will deliver a legacy for women's football.
"It's probably the most overused word, 'legacy', but investing ahead of that will ensure there is genuinely one," he said.
"Women's football is going to go from strength to strength beyond that World Cup, but only if we sweat the asset and that's investing in it, which we're doing - on a number of different levels."
Wellington appear likely to join the W-League first, after they were close to securing a licence last season, with Central Coast, who previously had a team for two seasons in 2008 and 2009, and Western to follow a year later.
The Canberra Times spoke to Matildas player Alanna Kennedy ahead of her new side Manchester City's first WSL match and gauged her thoughts on the W-League expansion.
"We started at parks at the back of ovals and at the earliest time, like so early in the morning just so people could go to school and go to work," she said.
"That's changed so much over the years, which is great but then also giving local girls an opportunity ... there's more quality now, because there's so many more people playing. They can see that there's a pathway to becoming a Matilda or they're excited at the thought of 'okay, well, now I know what I have to do', because it's promoted so much more."
Kennedy began her W-League career back in 2010, and since 2016 was spending her off-seasons in the NWSL, before she signed last year with Tottenham Hotspurs to kickoff her English league stint.
In addition to the expansion helping grow the W-League, she said it also helped the Matildas talent pool by providing more players a professional opportunity.
"It's good for us as well, having more and more people participate, which means that you have a better chance of finding more talent for our national teams," Kennedy said.
- with AAP