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Compiling the fixtures: The impossible job

9 Jun 2019
Pep Guardiola

Veteran fixtures compiler Glenn Thompson on the many considerations made for the 2019/20 fixtures

With the release of the 2019/20 Premier League fixture list, Glenn Thompson of Atos, who help to compile the season's match programme, reveals how it is drawn up.

How do the fixtures get processed?

We cannot do anything until we know the composition of each division, which is after the last EFL playoff. Then we can start looking at the main bit of compiling the fixtures.

It is a matter of placing each of the clubs in a pairing grid, which basically defines the dates they will be at home.

For every date in the season, the fixture computer knows who is at home and who is away and then it will mix them up randomly to determine which matches will take place on which date.

What happens if there are any problems?

If we have got any issues, we might have to go back and start again to produce a different set of fixtures. I'm reviewing the fixtures all the time to ensure other things can be met.

"Changing one match may require 40 other changes"

Glenn Thompson, Atos

Is it the impossible job?

You can't satisfy everyone. It's a compromise across all clubs; you can't do anything to favour any one club.

There are 2,036 matches, across the Premier League and EFL over a nine-month period.

The ideal solution is to ensure that those matches can all be played when scheduled.

How is the fixture list checked?

Traditionally the Premier League, the EFL and Atos representatives will review the fixtures for two days, looking at every date in the season to make sure that wherever possible we have met everything we have been asked to.

The computer is very useful during the review because if we do not want a certain fixture on a particular date, it will give us alternate dates for that fixture to be moved to.

It can be that changing one match may require 40 other changes.

We also have a working party meeting with representatives from all the leagues, The FA and also a fans representative, from the Football Supporters' Federation.

They will have had an introductory meeting in March before the fixtures are produced and then just before the fixtures are released they will meet again to go through key dates of the fixture list, such as opening day and the Christmas schedule.

They provide a check that all the requirements we have considered have been adequately dealt with.

The fixtures are then looked at by the Association of Chief Police Officers and British Transport Police representatives.

After they fixtures have been finalised, it's just a matter of sending them to the leagues.

Also in this series

Part 1: How the Premier League fixture list is compiled
Part 3: Treating clubs equally
Part 4: The festive period
Part 5: Marathons add to complexities

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