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Atos reveals the secrets to unlocking the football fixture conundrum

15 Jun 2012
Vincent Kompany holds aloft the Premier League Trophy courtesy of Stuart Grout

When Sergio Agüero thumped the ball past Paddy Kenny in the 94th minute of Manchester City's incredible comeback against QPR on the final day of the season, it marked the end of one of the most exciting, unpredictable and enjoyable football seasons for a long time.

For non-football fans, it also meant a respite from the frenetic action of the Premiership until it all whirrs into life again in August, aside from the Euros of course. However, for ardent fans, the season begins again on 18 June when next season's fixtures, for all the main leagues, are unveiled.

This will mean much consulting of calendars working out when and where they need to be for the big games, the derbies and where dreaded winter away days will take place.

When such fans are sat on the coach home tired, cold and smarting at a late penalty that cost them a point, the man they need to blame for putting them through such tortuous journeys is an IT technical architect by the name of Glenn Thompson.

Thompson works for French IT giant Atos. The firm is probably best known for its role as the Worldwide IT Partner for the Olympic Games, but it also plays an integral role in the UK's love of football, as it's been responsible for creating the fixtures lists across all major divisions for 30 years.

Thompson has been heading up this work since 1992, and on the eve of the publication of next season's fixtures he spoke to V3 about the challenges and complications that come with trying to compile over 2,000 matches, to be watched by millions of fans, over nine months.

"People often say, isn't it just the same thing every year? But actually there's a lot that changes. We have teams moving leagues due to promotion or relegation, we have FA Cup and England matches to consider and so forth, so we have to start from scratch every year," he explains.

"We also work closely with the relevant football leagues, and receive input from clubs and the police, to ensure matches won't cause problems by clashing with major events such as Notting Hill Carnival or have too many fans travelling through stations such as Birmingham or Euston."

As you can imagine, with so much to consider it's no easy task to create a set of 2,036 fixtures that keeps everyone happy.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

View Dan's Google+ profile

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