In August 2003, Adelaide City withdrew from the National Soccer League (NSL), leaving Adelaide with no NSL presence for the first time since the beginning of the league in 1977. West Adelaide had previously withdrawn from the NSL in 1999. In response, Adelaide United was created on 12 September 2003, with builder and property developer Gordon Pickard funding the new club and former Soccer Australia and FIFA executive Basil Scarsella as Chairman.
On 13 September, former Brisbane Strikers and Newcastle Breakers manager John Kosmina was officially announced as the manager, and within the frame of a few weeks time a team was cobbled together mostly with the remnants of the Adelaide City squad to compete in the clubs inaugural season. On 17 October 2003, Adelaide United won its first NSL match, against Brisbane Strikers 1–0 in front of a crowd in excess of 16,000 people.
After an impressive home-and-away season, including a seven-match unbeaten streak during November and December 2003, Adelaide United reached the NSL preliminary final, losing to Perth Glory. The NSL came to an abrupt end at the completion of the 2003–04 season after 28 seasons with The Reds only competing in the final season as governing body Football Federation Australia (FFA) shut down the league in preparation for the launch of the fully professional A-League almost 12 months later, on 26 August 2005.
Adelaide United were announced as one of eight teams to compete in the first season of the A-League, and are, along with the Perth Glory and Newcastle Jets, one of only three teams to survive from the National Soccer League's last season. United began preparation earlier than most of the other clubs and had announced two thirds of the 20 man squad before February 2005.
The club focused on bringing several Adelaide born players back to South Australia, such as Angelo Costanzo, Travis Dodd and Lucas Pantelis, who had previously played for Adelaide City SC in the NSL. Shengqing Qu was signed from Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua as the clubs "marquee" signing (a ruling allowing each club one player to be paid outside the salary cap) in March 2005.
Aurelio Vidmar announced his retirement before the A-League had even started. He was replaced before the fifth round by striker Fernando from Brazil, a former 'player of the year' in the old NSL. By moving to Adelaide, he was reunited with former coach John Kosmina who introduced him to Australian audiences at the Brisbane Strikers.
Adelaide United established links with American club Miami FC, setting up a 'sister club' relationship, with whom they played a number of friendlies and leading to signing Diego from them. The team also signed Brazilian legend Romário for a 5-game guest stint in November/December 2006.
Continuing their good form from the final season of the NSL, Adelaide United finished as Premiers in the inaugural season of the Hyundai A-League. The Reds were bundled out of the finals race in straight sets losing to Sydney FC in the two leg semi final and then Central Coast Mariners 1–0 in the preliminary final at Hindmarsh.
Adelaide United started the season well by winning the A-League Pre-Season Challenge Cup, beating reigning champions Central Coast Mariners 5-4 on penalties after 1-1 at the end of extra time. In the premiership season, The Reds finished runners up to Melbourne Victory. After a successful finals campaign, The Reds advanced to the 2006–07 Grand Final after winning 4–3 on penalties (1–1 AET) against the Newcastle Jets !Newcastle Jets. Adelaide United played Melbourne Victory !Melbourne Victory at the Telstra Dome in the Grand Final on 18 February 2007 losing 6–0.
The 2006–07 season also saw Brazilian international Romário join the club for a four-game guest player stint.
Adelaide United were selected, along with Sydney FC, as the first Australian representatives to play in the 2007 AFC Champions League. They received their Asian berth as A-League premiers. Adelaide was drawn into Group G with Chinese champion Shandong Luneng Taishan, Korean champions Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma and Vietnamese league and Super Cup champions Gach Dong Tam Long An. Adelaide finished 3rd in its group.
The Reds launched into the season by winning the A-League Pre-Season Challenge Cup, beating Perth Glory 2-1 at Hindmarsh Stadium. The club finished 6th place in the A-League, missing out on a finals place as they concentrated their energies on maintaining a successful AFC Champions League campaign.
Adelaide United participated in the 2008 AFC Champions League after finishing runner-up in the 2006–07 regular season and finals series to Melbourne Victory. Adelaide was drawn into Group E, along with V-League and Super Cup winners Bình Dương, CSL champions Changchun Yatai, and K-League winners Pohang Steelers.
Adelaide became the first Australian team to progress to the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League. Adelaide drew 2007 Uzbek League Runners-up Bunyodkor in the semi-final, after the Uzbeks knocked out Saipa in their quarter-final. In the first leg of the semi-final, Adelaide won 3–0 with Diego, Barbiero, and Cristiano (via a penalty) scoring. The match was witnessed by 16,998 fans at Hindmarsh Stadium. In the second leg of the semi finals Adelaide United lost 1–0 to FC Bunyodkor but went through to the final 3–1 on aggregate.
In the two legged final, they took on Japanese team Gamba Osaka who deposed 2007 champions Urawa Red Diamonds in the other semi-final. Adelaide lost heavily over two legs to Gamba Osaka. The score was 3–0 to Gamba Osaka away and 2–0 to Osaka at home in Adelaide, the Japanese club winning 5–0 on aggregate.
This result ensured that Adelaide would participate in the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup either as the AFC representatives or as the highest placed non-Japanese team – as the rules do not allow more than one Japanese team to participate.
The off season saw the departure of Socceroo Bruce Djite and Nathan Burns. By the end of round 27, Adelaide had drawn level for first, equalling Melbourne's 38 points on the ladder. Needing to win 2–0 against the Central Coast Mariners away to win the premiership, The Reds only managed to secure a 1–0 win. Adelaide was pushed down to second because of goal difference. The Reds, along with Melbourne Victory, Queensland Roar and Central Coast Mariners, proceeded to the finals. In the Grand Final at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Adelaide United lost 1–0 to Melbourne Victory. The match was marred by the controversial 10th minute sending off of Cristiano which ultimately contributed to the loss.
An early highlight for the season was Adelaide's run to the final of the AFC Champions League against Gamba Osaka. Gamba Osaka entered the FIFA Club World Cup as the winner of the AFC Champion's League, freeing up the tournament's Japanese host position; Adelaide United, as runners-up of the AFC Champion's League, filled this position. Their first match was a play-off against 2007–08 OFC Champions League champions Waitakere United from New Zealand. The Reds defeated Waitakere 2–1 via two set plays from Paul Reid to secure a rematch with ACL rivals Gamba Osaka on 14 December – the third meeting between the two sides in three weeks. The Reds fought valiantly and created many opportunities, in particular Travis Dodd, but lost 0–1 after a 23rd minute shot by Gamba midfielder, Yasuhito Endō. On 18 December, Adelaide played in the fifth-place play-off match against Egyptian club Al Ahly SC, defeating them 1–0 to be rewarded the fifth-place prize of US$1.5 million. Adelaide United were awarded the Fair Play award upon the completion of the tournament, and Cristiano's goal in the fifth-place play-off was selected as goal of the tournament.
After a stellar season in the A-League and internationally, Adelaide United began its pre-season without a financial owner; Nick Bianco relinquished his A-League licence back to Football Federation Australia (FFA). Regardless of this situation, the FFA ensured that Adelaide would have the funds available to recruit in the off-season and to maintain the club, whilst they would negotiate the new ownership deals. This however, was still not enough to lift the club up from its 2009–10 wooden spoon status – the club's worst performing season in its short history.
Adelaide competed in the ACL Champions League in 2010 after finishing second on the 2008–09 A-League league table, and runner-up in the Finals series to cross-border rivals, Melbourne Victory. Adelaide were drawn into Group H alongside 2009 Asian Champions Pohang Steelers, Chinese sister club Shandong Luneng and Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Adelaide United managed to hold on to top spot of Group H resulting in a home match in the Round of 16. In an exciting, nerve-racking match, Adelaide lost to Jeonbuk Motors 3–2. Adelaide came back twice in the game, including a goal in the final seconds of the match. Jeonbuk won the match with a goal in the second half of extra time.
For the first time in the club's history, the Adelaide United was to be managed by an international manager in Rini Coolen, moving away from the Adelaide United tradition of local coaches seen in its prior seasons.
As of 9 September 2010, Adelaide United had made Australian football history by becoming the first team to climb from the bottom of the table to the top, whilst the 2009–10 premiers and champions, Sydney FC !Sydney FC, remained rooted at the bottom. Adelaide United also claimed the record for longest undefeated streak in A-League history with their win over Wellington Phoenix !Wellington Phoenix in Week 11 of the league, consisting of thirteen games stretching back to the penultimate round of the 2009–10 A-League season. This surpassed Central Coast Mariners !Central Coast Mariners's previous record of twelve games undefeated set back in the 2005–06 A-League season. Unfortunately for Adelaide United, Brisbane Roar !Brisbane Roar surpassed this newly set record, when the Roar comprehensively won their Week 16 fixture against Central Coast Mariners !Central Coast Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium.
Following 18 months under Football Federation Australia (FFA) financial administration, it was announced on 8 November 2010 that a South Australian consortium had taken over ownership of the club with a ten-year licence. New co-owner Greg Griffin steps in as Chairman of the club, whilst ex-North Adelaide Football Club CEO, Glenn Elliott replaces Sam Ciccarello, who now takes up a role at the FFA.
On 9 January 2011, Adelaide broke its longest winless streak against its rival club Melbourne Victory !Melbourne Victory by posting a 4–1 away win in Melbourne at AAMI Park. Adelaide United then went on to make A-League history by recording the highest winning margin in the league's history with an 8–1 win over North Queensland Fury on 21 January 2011. This also marked the first time two players from the same side scored hat-tricks in one game (Sergio van Dijk and Marcos Flores), and matched the all-time highest match aggregate score of 9 goals scored in one match.
Adelaide finished the season by winning 2–1 at Adelaide Oval against Melbourne Victory !Melbourne Victory in front of 21,038 spectators – the club's largest crowd of the season. This ensured the club third place in overall standings at the end of the season, and hosting rights for at least the first week of the knock-out Finals Series. Adelaide United went on to defeat Wellington Phoenix !Wellington Phoenix in the first week of the Finals under torrential rain, but succumbed to Gold Coast United in the second week and were knocked out of the competition on the back of a 2–3 home loss.
Off-season transfers marked the departure of Captain Travis Dodd, long serving players Lucas Pantelis and Robert Cornthwaite, and of fan favourites Mathew Leckie and Marcos Flores to overseas clubs. In a coup for the club and the A-League, Rini Coolen managed to secure the signatures of Socceroos Bruce Djite, Jon McKain and Dario Vidošić; with the latter being offered the Australian marquee player status at the club for the season.
On 18 December 2011 it was announced that head coach Rini Coolen had been sacked and replaced by former coach John Kosmina as caretaker coach for the rest of the season, including the AFC Champions League group stage of 2012. As part of Kosmina's takeover of the head coaching position, Eugene Galeković was named club captain on 28 December 2011, replacing Jon McKain.
Their fourth appearance in the competition – more times than any other Australian club – Adelaide qualified for the 2012 AFC Champions League playoff round by finishing third in the 2010–11 A-League. They were placed in Group E, quickly dubbed the 'Group of Death' by numerous commentators, alongside Bunyodkor, Gamba Osaka and Pohang Steelers. Adelaide qualified through to the Round of 16 for a third time and then went on to qualify for the quarter finals with a 1–0 win at home against Nagoya Grampus.
Adelaide faced Bunyodkor in the quarter-finals. Adelaide surrendered a 2–0 lead at home, with Bunyodkor clawing back to end 2–2. The return leg in Tashkent was again locked at 2–2 after 90 minutes of play, requiring the game to go to extra time and possible penalties thereafter. Despite an Iain Ramsay goal in the third minute to give Adelaide the lead, Bunyodkor eventually eliminated Adelaide by scoring in added extra time. Adelaide ended the match with nine men, having Iain Fyfe and Fabian Barbiero both sent off after receiving two yellow cards.
Adelaide United's 2012–13 season was John Kosmina's first full season as permanent coach since being appointed in a caretaker role from Rini Coolen in December 2011. The season was also Kosmina's first in charge at Adelaide since the 2006–07 season. John Kosmina had expressed his desire to the club for a two-year extension to his contract, butrumours publicly emerged of assistant coach Michael Valkanis being offered a contract extension, but not Kosmina. The coach resigned shortly thereafter. Valkanis was appointed as interim coach until the end of the season, with former Adelaide City player Sergio Melta being appointed as his assistant.
The Reds finished the A-League season fourth but were knocked out of Championship contention by Brisbane Roar 2–1 in an elimination final.
On 30 April 2013, Josep Gombau signed a two-season deal as coach, arriving at the club in July 2013. In the winter transfer window, Gombau was quick to add Spanish flavour into the squad. His first two signings were compatriots and Barcelona youth products Sergio Cirio and Isaías Sánchez. Gombau also brought his long-time assistant coach Pau Marti to work alongside existing assistant coach Michael Valkanis. He also added other players including Tarek Elrich and Steven Lustica, Michael Zullo for a season long loan and Brent McGrath as a four-week injury replacement player. Awer Mabil and Jordan Elsey were also promoted from the youth system, each rewarded with two-year contracts. Sergio van Dijk was transferred to Persib Bandung and Dario Vidošić to Sion for a reported $700,000 transfer fee.
The Reds had a shaky start to their season under new manager Gombau. They had only a single win in their first nine games for the season and early calls started for the club to show the door to the new man in charge. Gombau quickly changed the club's fortunes, getting his second win in round 10 against the Central Coast Mariners, with a 4–0 result. The team continued this form to finish sixth on the table after the 27 home-and-away games, which let them into the finals by two points. Adelaide's season was ended by Central Coast in the elimination final, losing 1–0.
The Reds' highest attendance in the 2013–14 season was 16,504 in the round 2 clash with Melbourne Victory at Hindmarsh Stadium which ended in a 2–2 draw.
Carrying over from the previous season, Josep Gombau was quick to implement a possession-based football style at Adelaide, all the way from the grass roots level of local football to the senior side. Gombau further reinforced his dogmatic approach by bringing in FC Barcelona legend Guillermo Amor as the club's technical director. While winning the Adelaide fans over, Josep elevated the technical and tactical quality of the local brand, earning the respect and admiration of rival clubs, coaches and the FFA, who unanimously voted him in as coach of the A-League All Stars team for the 2014 A-League All Stars Game against the visiting Juventus. Gombau's United won the inaugural FFA Cup with a 1–0 win against Perth Glory. Gombau left the club in July 2015 to take up a youth coaching role in the United States.
Following the shock resignation of manager Josep Gombau who took up a youth coaching role in the United States shortly before the start of the season, Adelaide United announced Guillermo Amor as his replacement who was serving as the club's technical director. Eight rounds into the season, Adelaide were without a win leaving them sitting at the bottom of the ladder with only 3 points and 3 goals scored. However, Adelaide then won 13 of their next 18 games losing just once to finish top of the ladder and win the club's second Premier's Plate. Following a week off during which the Elimination Finals were played, Adelaide United defeated Melbourne City 4–1 in a Semi-final at Coopers Stadium to advance to the Grand Final where they would for the first time host the Grand Final at the Adelaide Oval.
In the Grand Final, the Reds finally won their first A-league championship, beating the Western Sydney Wanderers 3–1 in front of a crowd of 50,119.
Adelaide United were eliminated in the first round of the 2016 FFA Cup, suffering a stunning 2–1 loss to National Premier Leagues Queensland team Redlands United FC, with the match labelled the biggest upset in FFA Cup history. Adelaide United had to replace five players from its starting grand final team including Bruce Djite, Craig Goodwin, Pablo Sánchez, Stefan Mauk and Bruce Kamau, but they were replaced with youngsters Jesse Makarounas, Nikola Mileusnic, Ben Garuccio, Marc Marino, Jordan O'Doherty and Riley McGree, experienced pair Henrique and James Holland, and Spanish Striker Sergi Guardiola on loan and South Korean Danny Choi as an injury replacement.
Adelaide United's original strip was made using the three South Australian state colours: red, blue and yellow. The shirt was mainly red with a large yellow stripe down both sleeves with blue being used for the short colour and the stripe running down each side of the top. The badge also uses the state colours in a stylised swoosh, above what appears to be a football made with the Southern Cross, as opposed to the traditional hexagonal panels of a football. The football is similar in appearance to that of the UEFA Champions League logo.
Since their inception into the A-League, Adelaide United's kits, along with the rest of the league, have been manufactured by Reebok. United's kit has moved towards a predominately all-red kit, both top and shorts, with black trim. Originally, the away strip was predominantly white, with red sleeves and yellow trim however in 2009 the club launched a predominantly black 'clash' strip.
The launch of the new national league also saw Adelaide launch a new badge; while keeping a similar look and feel as its predecessor the new badge takes the form of more traditional football badge with its shield like border.
Adelaide United's 2009–10 playing kit didn't feature a sponsor on the front of their kit. Towards the end of the season, United signed a deal with Jim's Group which saw the Jim's Plumbing logo feature on the front of United's home and away kits. The deal only lasted for the remainder of the season as the logo isn't displayed on Adelaide's home or away kits in the 2010–11 season.
On 16 December 2010, Coopers Brewery announced that their logo would feature on the front of the jersey for the remainder of the season, in a deal worth to be around $200,000.
As of 1 April 2011, all A-League clubs were able to negotiate new kit supplier deals as the previous contract with Reebok had elapsed and as such, Adelaide United negotiated a 3-year deal with Erreà.
On 2 March 2012, the club announced Legea as the official kit suppliers for their 2012 Asian Champions League campaign. Legea are exclusively supplying all of the team's authentic on-field and off-field apparel for the clubs 6 ACL group-stage matches.
Adelaide United is most commonly referred to as "The Reds" because of their predominantly red playing kit. In February 2009 the club's head coach, Aurelio Vidmar referred to the City of Adelaide as a "Pissant Town" after suffering a heartbreaking loss. The club's supporters eventually utilised the name "Pissants" as a term of endearment and it became an unofficial nickname of the club between its supporters.
Adelaide United play their home matches at Hindmarsh Stadium with the exceptions being when they played two games a year at Adelaide Oval, one against interstate rivals Melbourne Victory and traditional rivals Sydney FC. Even though Adelaide lost the first of these two encounters 3–1, it was South Australia's largest Association Football crowd in history with 25,039 people filling the stands, many others were turned away at the gates. The second match in 2009 saw 23,002 people attend the game.
Hindmarsh Stadium seating capacity is 17,000. Adelaide United's first home game in the now defunct National Soccer League saw over 15,000 supporters watch Adelaide win 1–0 over the Brisbane Strikers.
A-League crowds have averaged 10,947 in 2005–06 and over 12,000 supporters attending in both 2006–07 and 2007–08 seasons. Despite a lack of on-field success, crowds at United's games remained healthy during the 2009–10 season relative to other clubs, largely due to the club's strong community-based initiatives. The record attendance for Hindmarsh Stadium was a full house of 17,000 on 12 November 2008 against Gamba Osaka in the historic second leg of the ACL final.
Adelaide United's main active supporters' group is called the Red Army.
Adelaide United's rivals are Melbourne Victory. Adelaide was again one of two of the leading teams in the 2006–07 season this time against Melbourne that saw an altercation between John Kosmina, the Adelaide United manager, and Kevin Muscat after the Victory captain knocked Kosmina over after entering the technical area to retrieve a ball. Kosmina then jumped up and grabbed Muscat around the throat for a few seconds. Season events culminated in the year's grandfinal that saw Adelaide captain, Ross Aloisi, sent off and Melbourne winning 6–0. The rivalry went beyond extreme after Melbourne defeated Adelaide United 1–0 in the 2008–09 grand final with United imported striker, Cristiano, given a controversial straight red card. The rivalry then went even further when Adelaide United defeated Melbourne 4–1 at AAMI Park, after United had been suffering a record-breaking 10-game losing streak against the Victory. Fort Lauderdale Strikers
Adelaide United Director Mel Patzwald signed a 'sister' club relationship in November 2006, which includes access to Miami's 'academy' Desportivo Brasil. The deal saw a friendly take place at Hindmarsh Stadium along with the transfer of Diego and Romário to Adelaide. Shandong Luneng
Adelaide United Director Mel Patzwald signed a 'sister' club relationship with Chinese Super League Club Shandong Luneng in December 2008. The agreement lasted until 2012.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Youth Team and NPL DepartmentManagerial History
Ownership Consortium and Club Board
Chairman: Greg Griffin
Club Patron: Fay Gerard
Members of Consortium: Robert Gerard, Richard Noble and Bruno Marveggio
Additional Board Members: Joe Borreli and Francis Wong
CEO: Grant Mayer
A-League and the previous National Soccer League (until 2004):
Premiers (2): 2005–06, 2015–16
Runners-up (2): 2006–07, 2008–09
A-League Finals and the previous National Soccer League Finals (until 2004):
Championships (1): 2016
Runners-up (2): 2007, 2009
Appearances (9): 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
Winners (1): 2014
A-League Pre-Season Challenge Cup
Winners (2): 2006, 2007
AFC Champions League: 5 appearances
Runners-up (1): 2008
FIFA Club World Cup
Fifth place (1): 2008
Fair Play Award: 2008
Adelaide United hold both the A-League records for greatest win, with an 8–1 victory against North Queensland Fury on 21 January 2011 as well as a 7–0 win against Newcastle Jets on 25 January 2015.
Eugene Galekovic holds the club record for all-time most appearances, with 256 matches played.
Bruce Djite holds the club record for all-time highest goalscorer in all competitions with 44 goals in 164 appearances.As of 12 February 2017