7 things you (probably) didn't know about the man who decides the Premier League fixtures

Before the 2013/14 fixtures are announced, the Premier League gives us a glimpse at the science behind the schedule.

Image: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

TOMORROW IS PREMIER League fixture list day, the day when every whinger and conspiracy theorist under the sun crawls out to wonder why Manchester United have the easiest run-in and why *insert club of choice here* has got a comparatively raw deal.

Ahead of the 2013/2014 launch, the official Premier League website caught up with the man behind the magic for a Q&A. Here are some things you may not have known about the process:

1. Glenn Thompson is the main man

Thompson works for Atos Origin, an IT company, and he is the man who controls the fixture list for the entire Premier League and Football League. He’s been doing this job since 1992.

2. The whole process is based on a thing called “sequencing”

“That is all about breaking the season down into a number of constituent parts which are called sets,” Thompson explains. “We break it down into five sets, which are reversed in the second half of the season.”

3. Think of home and away fixtures in blocks of five

In any set of five matches a team will have either three home fixtures and two away, or two home fixtures and three away.

4. Clubs from the same area are paired to avoid clashes

This is obvious for teams like the two Manchester or two Merseyside clubs who rarely play at home on the same weekend — but did you know that if West Ham are at home, both Leyton Orient and Dagenham & Redbridge usually play away?

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5. Other considerations

Are there specific days when clubs don’t want to be at home? Are there any requests from police? All of this needs to be taken into account.

6. Making one change can mean making “40 other changes”

Once Thompson’s work is done the next-to-final fixture list is reviewed by representatives from the Premier League,  the Football League and Atos. Making changes at this point is messy but sometimes it has to be done.

7. It is an impossible job

“You can’t satisfy everyone,” Thompson says. Remember that when you’re moaning about United’s easy fixture list tomorrow.

Read the full Q&A with Glenn Thompson of Atos on the Premier League website here >

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Niall Kelly

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