Fixtures questions answered
The other day I posted a blog entitled The Secrets of the Fixtures Computer.
Plenty of the information in the blog was the result of an interview with a man called Glenn Thompson, who works for a company called Atos Origin.
Glenn owns the actual fixtures computer and is very heavily involved in putting together the fixtures for the Premier League, the Football League and the lower Scottish divisions.
Plenty of you posted on the blog asking a variety of questions.
As you can imagine Glenn has had a very busy week but earlier on Wednesday he e-mailed me the answers to some of the issues you raised.
Here is what Glenn had to say:
"I expected the Secrets of the Fixture Computer to be a popular blog but didn't expect as many comments as have already been posted. Well the fixtures were published at 10am this morning - hopefully not too many bad comments but you can't please everyone!
"I thought that I would answer some of your questions, starting with the easy one - which team do I support? I actually support a League Two side, so you can't argue that my involvement in the fixture compilation process has given them any help.
"There were also a few questions regarding Scottish fixtures, the same methodology is used for the Scottish Football League (not Scottish Premier League) fixtures but with a few minor adjustments to the compilation rules.
"There were a number of queries on limiting travel and to my quote that the fixture computer is not aware of distances between clubs. As a number of people have mentioned, it is possible to make the fixture computer aware of travel distances but this has to be considered along with all other constraints and parameters that make up the overall compilation process.
"Some clubs would also prefer to have their local fixtures on a Saturday as this will mean a larger crowd for a local game. This season in the Football League we have considered travel distances for the majority of midweek fixtures.
"It's not always easy to do this especially in League One where you have a majority of southern-based clubs. And due to pairing requests and specific home or away date requests you don't always have the correct mix of teams on the home and away side for a given date.
"Feedback from this season's fixtures will tell if we have made the correct decision to prioritise travel for Football League clubs.
"Those of you who read the blog will be thinking that my example of Southend United and West Ham United's pairing has not been perfectly achieved this season - this year was a good example of how high priority date requests can affect some of the 'secondary pairings'.
"We received date requests for Colchester United to be away on the weekend of the 'V' Festival and also had a number of date requests for West Ham United to be away in August.
"These date requests meant that for a number of fixtures both West Ham United and Southend United had to play at home (and away on the same date). The priority pairing in Essex is for Southend United to be away when Colchester United are at home, maintaining this priority pairing meant that we could not achieve the perfect Southend/West Ham pairing. Additionally a similar issue occurred with Colchester United and Ipswich Town, due to a date request from Norwich City.
"Many of you have also asked why clubs can't have a perfect home/away sequence. Several reasons why this is not achievable given the current compilation rules:
"a) The priority sequence is the Saturday sequence, so wherever possible we try to ensure that clubs go H/A/H/A on Saturdays. As an example if you were to insert a midweek fixture after the first game you will have a H/A/A/H/A sequence.
"b) Blank Saturdays for FA Cup rounds etc and different playing dates in each division will also effect the sequence for clubs. To maintain pairing across divisions we try to ensure that the sequence is common for each division (Premier League included).
"If League One and Two clubs are not playing on the first and second rounds of the FA Cup this disrupts the sequence for Premier League and Championship clubs, there is also a fixture rule that states that wherever possible clubs should have a home and away fixture around a blank (non-league fixture) Saturday for an FA Cup tie.
"If League One and Two clubs have a sequence of home/FA Cup/away then the Premier League and Championship clubs will have to have a H/A/A or H/H/A sequence at the same point of the season. The same is true for the third and fourth round of the FA Cup when Premier League and Championship clubs do not have league fixtures.
"c) Numerous clubs submit more than one date request, an example is Doncaster Rovers who requested four dates where they wished to be away from home due to race meetings at Doncaster race course.
"If there was a fixed home and away sequence for the whole season it may not be possible to meet the majority, or all, of Doncaster Rovers requests to be away when Doncaster race meetings are scheduled.
"The methodology used to compile the fixtures allows the proposed overall home/away sequence to be reversed for a number of matches at certain times during the season.
"Each time we reverse the home/away sequence there is a possibility that a club will have two home or away Saturday fixtures. Again this is a controllable parameter and we aim to minimise the number of occasions where clubs have two home or away Saturday fixtures.
"Hope the above resolves some of the compilation queries."
Many thanks to Glenn for the above information - some of his answers are pretty detailed as you can see, but then again, so were some of the posts left on the original blog.