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Prof develops football-match scheduling software

'The only thing I cannot control is the weather'

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A computer-sciences prof in Notttingham says he has developed software which can solve one of the knottiest problems facing humanity at present - that of scheduling football matches.

“The biggest difficulties occur at Christmas and New Year when the top clubs play at least twice over the holiday period," says Professor Graham Kendall from the School of Computer Science at The University of Nottingham.

"As well as coordinating 92 teams and 46 fixtures I have captured many other real world problems such as avoiding local derbies, ensuring that teams do not play each other twice over the Christmas period, and trying to limit the travel that has to be undertaken by the supporters.”

According to the prof, the central problems faced by football-scheduling ware result from official guidelines aimed at limiting strain on the country's transport systems and on police.

It's important, for instance, to make sure that big teams located close to one another don't play at home on the same day - for example Manchester United+Manchester City, Liverpool+Everton and Chelsea+Fulham. Such "paired" clubs must play each other on occasion, but not during the Christmas holiday period.

Similarly, the number of big London clubs playing at home on any given day needs to be kept down. Meanwhile, all the large clubs need to play at least one home and one away match during the period from Boxing Day to New Year's.

Prof Kendall says he has developed software which can easily deal with all these requirements, and which has the potential to produce fixture lists for the entire season. He says he's "in discussions" with league authorities.

"The only thing he cannot control is the weather," says Nottingham Uni, hinting at vast undisclosed powers possessed by the prof and/or his software.

Not a whole lot more from the university here. ®

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