“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.” – Glenn Thompson.
Seven years` bad luck? No, but the August V-festival plays a large part in explaining why Colchester United have not had a home opener to the season since 2002.
The 2009/10 fixtures were issued yesterday, having been compiled a year in advance by Glenn Thompson, who works in conjunction with a fourteen-person team at the Football League to produce all the fixtures on his laptop. He has done since 1993.
Colchester were given and away tie with Norwich City, and the prospect of a derby tinged with excitement and nervousness at Jamie Cureton`s likely presence on the pitch. The striker scored more than 20 goals during the club`s first Championship season only to slam United as a small club with “no ambition.”
Now, the BBC have posted a follow-up weblog in response to an article which used the club as an example of why the fixture process is so complicated, and not as simple as playing at home or away on alternate weeks of the season.
Colchester`s fixtures are dictated by when and where West Ham United, Southend, Norwich and Ipswich are playing on any given matchday.
In response to the question of why Colchester are routinely drawn away at the start of a campaign, Thompson said it was due to a request, probably to keep Colchester and the surrounding area free from an influx of fans coming to a game on the same weekend as the Virgin ‘V’ Festival, hosted in Chelmsford since 1996.
“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,” Thompson revealed yesterday, shortly after the lists were made public.
He went on to explain that all clubs are twinned – paired up to share alternate fixtures, so that when one team is home, the other is away.
Thompson said: “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.”
The full article makes interesting reading and it takes out some of the random element that is often presumed with football fixtures. The enduring stat, revealed in a similar BBC article on Monday, is that One fixture change can affect up to 48 clubs at a time.
Click here to read the full article.
Click here to read a summary of the complexities behind fixture computation.
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