Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Fix Is In!

OK, football fans! We are deep into the summer lull and the lack of activity at Carrow Road is about as exciting as the prospect of spending an evening immersed in the exciting world of philately.

I am enjoying Euro cup but the absence of my national team has meant that Euro cup does not occupy my mind 24-7 as it would if good old England were participating.

Bad for me. Good for you..Maybe!

My inquietude has led me to explore new ground. I have decided to look into some 'behind the scenes' footy matters this summer. Footy issues that get little press. Well none in fact. I am going to start by having a butchers at how the football fixtures are selected.....

Oh you know already? Yeah yeah Bigus...

The teams get typed into a super computer wider than Tommy Smyth's head and taller than the mountain of poo that's built from his bullshit right? Then it spits out the fixture list with a mighty eructation followed by clouds of smoke before taking a well earned rest for 9 months?

Oh no dear blog addicts...It ain't that easy....Before that fella on five live can attempt to make a 0-0 draw between Kiddeminster Harriers and Barnet sound exciting there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes. Ready? Ok...Lets do it...Yeah! (Sorry...The lack of league football is starting to get to me).

It all starts in January when each football club is asked to fill out a fixture request form by the Football League and Atos Origin (creators of the fixture compiling software).

Teams can request certain fixtures or dates for important games. For instance. There is no point playing a derby on a Wednesday night so Norwich will request that the home game with Ip...Ip...them is played on a Saturday. The Police will inevitably stick their oar in to move the game to a Sunday at noon. Bastards. What else can be requested?

Don't fancy starting the season with a 9 hour coach ride to Hull? Alright. Say so. If possible it will be taken into consideration. Once every whim and fancy of chairmen across the country is collected the real work starts. Certain teams are paired for some very obvious reasons. For instance... Norwich at home? Ip..Ip..that lot will be away. This ensures that no trouble kicks off at train stations around Norfolk and Suffolk. Arsenal at home? Then Spurs are on a budget flight to Sunderland. West Ham at home? Then there is a good chance that Leyton Orient and Southend will be on the road. This helps the local plod keep their overtime down.

Uefa and Fifa then have their say and certain dates are blacked out for International fixtures, Champions League and Uefa cup games.

Once the pairings are compiled..Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United. Liverpool and Everton. Pompey and Southampton...(You get the idea) Then the rules come into play, one being that no team will play more than 2 home or 2 away games in a row.

The pairings are put into two groups and a grid of all 92 league teams is produced.

If a teams requests can be accommodated then they will be.

Building a stadium and need an extra week? Ok you'll be away. Your chairman fancies starting at home and slips someone a brown envelope? Just kidding!!

The finished grid determines whether or not a team is home or away on a certain date from the start of the season til it's end when Chelsea will choke once again and Ip.Ip..Ip...them miss out on the playoffs. Get in!

The home and away information from the grid is then fed into the fixtures computer and hey presto..plop there it is... Coventry away for starters...Thanks.

But wait....The football league has a look and doesn't like what it sees. The Premier League neither..doh. Back to the drawing board. Usually a three day sit down occurs so all parties can scour the list and request changes. Someone spots that Leeds are at Boro' and Liverpool at Newcastle? Oops. That has to change. Can't have those naughty scousers and dirty Leeds within 20 miles of each other.

There is one day a season where the computer has no say. Boxing day. Fixtures for Boxing day are hand picked. The lack of public transport on this day dictates that a game should not be too far for supporters to go. This is why Norwich always end up at QPR or Palace. Still who's complaining, there's no late Christmas pressie better than 3 points and a night out in Laaaaaaandan Taahhhhhn.

Once the fixture list is approved, the clubs get ten days to point out any problems. The biggies are dealt with and the the others waved away. "Sorry Mr Winkleman, we cannot move your game at Leicester because you are having your mullet trimmed that day!"

And...Bingo. There it is.! A season's worth of fixtures for 92 teams.

Do most club requests get approved? Glenn Thompson from Atos seems to think they do a good job....

Most years we meet 80% of all date requests that the clubs put in. Where pairings are important we are hitting 95% plus. We do get reports from the system that shows how we are doing in respect of the clubs wishes and pairings."
Well that's yer lot. I hope that this insight into the fixture process was interesting. If not? I really don't care..I found it interesting..a little anyway.

Right then... I am off to plan back to back trips to Burnley then Southampton..Scheduling Idiots!


P.S. From next season Premier League benches will have to grow. 7 subs will allowed jog up and down the touchlines. I will be looking at this exciting change next. Standby!


Mike Georger said...

wow, thats inteesting. i figured it was just random like in fifa, granted those idiots made it so you have cup games and league games the same day so maybe thats a good thing.

my second theory was that the schedule was just made to be competely unfair to united every year because they cant catch a break
/'sir' douchenozzle

The NY Kid said...

Nice jump, there, Bigus.


Lingering Bursitis said...

NY Kid: it's true. His HTML was nightmarish

Mike Georger said...

hey the man came all the way from rome to make that post, cut him some slack

Bigus Dickus said...

Well when you have a dog you don't need to bark yourself. Nah whatta mean?

The NY Kid said...

So, LB is a Chihuahua?

Lingering Bursitis said...

Yes Bigus. I know what you mean. When you're a drooling idiot, you can't pick up your droolings. It's fine. It is my burden

Bigus Dickus said...

He's more of a slobbering mastif.