Journal of Scheduling

, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 641–651 | Cite as

Soccer schedules in Europe: an overview



In this paper, we give an overview of the competition formats and the schedules used in 25 European soccer competitions for the season 2008–2009. We discuss how competitions decide the league champion, qualification for European tournaments, and relegation. Following Griggs and Rosa (Bull. ICA 18:65–68, 1996), we examine the popularity of the so-called canonical schedule. We investigate the presence of a number of properties related to successive home or successive away matches (breaks) and of symmetry between the various parts of the competition. We introduce the concept of ranking-balancedness, which is particularly useful to decide whether a fair ranking can be made. We also determine how the schedules manage the carry-over effect. We conclude by observing that there is quite some diversity in European soccer schedules, and that current schedules leave room for further optimizing.


Soccer Scheduling Canonical schedule Ranking-balancedness Breaks Mirroring Carry-over effect 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson, I. (1999). Balancing carry-over effects in tournaments. In F. Holroyd, K. Quinn, C. Rowley, & B. Webb (Eds.), Research notes in mathematics: Vol. 403. Combinatorial designs and their applications (pp. 1–16). London: Chapman & Hall/CRC. Google Scholar
  2. Bartsch, T., Drexl, A., & Kroger, S. (2006). Scheduling the professional soccer leagues of Austria and Germany. Computers & Operations Research, 33(7), 1907–1937. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Buraimo, B., Forrest, D., & Simmons, R. (2009). Insights for clubs from modeling match attendance in football. The Journal of the Operational Research Society, 60(2), 147–155. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. De Werra, D. (1980). Geography, games and graphs. Discrete Applied Mathematics, 2(4), 327–337. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. De Werra, D. (1981). Scheduling in sports. In P. Hansen (Ed.), Annals of discrete mathematics: Vol. 11. Studies on graphs and discrete programming (pp. 381–395). Amsterdam: North-Holland. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Della Croce, F., & Oliveri, D. (2006). Scheduling the Italian Football League: an ILP-based approach. Computers & Operations Research, 33(7), 1963–1974. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Drexl, A., & Knust, S. (2007). Sports league scheduling: graph- and resource-based models. Omega, 35, 465–471. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Flatberg, T. (2009). Scheduling the topmost football leagues of Norway. In EURO XXIII: book of abstract of the 23rd European Conference on Operational Research, Bonn, Germany (p. 240). Google Scholar
  9. Forrest, D., & Simmons, R. (2006). New issues in attendance demand: the case of the English football league. Journal of Sports Economics, 7(3), 247–266. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Geril, J. (2007). Ons budget voor transfers? Nul komma nul euro. Het Nieuwsblad, February 2nd (VUM) [Dutch]. Google Scholar
  11. Goossens, D., & Spieksma, F. (2009). Scheduling the Belgian soccer league. Interfaces, 39(2), 109–118. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Goossens, D., & Spieksma, F. (2011). The carry-over effect does not influence football results. Journal of Sports Economics. doi: 10.1177/1527002511402932. Google Scholar
  13. Griggs, T., & Rosa, A. (1996). A tour of European soccer schedules, or testing the popularity of GK 2n. Bulletin of the ICA, 18, 65–68. Google Scholar
  14. Kendall, G. (2008). Scheduling English football fixtures over holiday periods. The Journal of the Operational Research Society, 59(6), 743–755. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kendall, G., Knust, S., Ribeiro, C., & Urrutia, S. (2010). Scheduling in sports: an annotated bibliography. Computers & Operations Research, 37, 1–19. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kendall, G., McCollum, B., Cruz, F., & McMullan, P. (2010). Scheduling English football fixtures: consideration of two conflicting objectives. In PATAT’ 10: proceedings of the 8th international conference on the Practice and Theory of Automated Timetabling Belfast, UK (pp. 1–5). Google Scholar
  17. Kirkman, T. (1847). On a problem in combinations. Cambridge and Dublin Mathematical Journal, 2, 191–204. Google Scholar
  18. Knust, S., & v. Thaden, M. (2006). Balanced home-away assignments. Discrete Optimization, 3, 354–365. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. McCreary, M. (2008). All matches off as referees strike. Belfast Telegraph, August 8th (Independent News and Media). Google Scholar
  20. Mendelsohn, E., & Rosa, A. (1985). One-factorizations of the complete graph—a survey. Journal of Graph Theory, 9, 43–65. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Nurmi, K., Goossens, D., Bartsch, T., Bonomo, F., Briskorn, D., Duran, G., Kyngås, J., Ribeiro, C., Spieksma, F., & Urrutia, S. (2010). A framework for a highly constrained sports scheduling problems. In IMECS’10: proceedings of the international MultiConference of Engineers and Computer Scientists (Vol. III, pp. 1991–1997), Hong Kong, March 17–19. Google Scholar
  22. Rasmussen, R. (2008). Scheduling a triple round robin tournament for the best Danish soccer league. European Journal of Operational Research, 185, 795–810. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Rasmussen, R., & Trick, M. (2008). Round robin scheduling—a survey. European Journal of Operational Research, 188, 617–636. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Russell, K. (1980). Balancing carry-over effects in round robin tournaments. Biometrika, 67(1), 127–131. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Scarf, P. A., & Shi, X. (2008). The importance of a match in a tournament. Computers & Operations Research, 35(7), 2406–2418. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Schreuder, J. (1992). Combinatorial aspects of construction of competition Dutch Professional Football Leagues. Discrete Applied Mathematics, 35(3), 301–312. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Urrutia, S., & Ribeiro, C. (2006). Maximizing breaks and bounding solutions to the mirrored travelling tournament problem. Discrete Applied Mathematics, 154, 1932–1938. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Operations Research and Business Statistics, Faculty of Business and EconomicsK.U. Leuven, BelgiumLeuvenBelgium

Personalised recommendations