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Optimising Sports League Fixture Lists

Primary supervisor

Mark Wallace

This project looks at the challenges that team league sport associations face when arranging the season’s fixture lists. This is a growing issue as popularity for a particular team sport increases. New clubs are formed and the number of teams increase (of all age ranges and at all league levels) and with this the availability of playing fields becomes increasingly scarce. Development of new playing fields is one option to address this problem, but this involves large amounts of funding. An alternative approach is to increase the efficiency of scheduling to ensure the most effective use of playing fields. There are a set of constraints in place for the task.

Take for example, a typical state football or soccer league in Victoria: There may be ten teams. Each team must play each other twice (once at home, once away) during a season. The day of the game depends on league type (i.e. men, women, junior or younger) and the time of each team’s home game is usually (but not always) the same every week. The time window is also dependent on whether the pitch has approved floodlighting. As the number of teams allocated to a pitch increase, the fixture list can become increasingly conflicted. Scheduling could also depend on the type of pitch, and the predicted weather forecast. 

The challenge for scheduling pitch space for all sports is even more challenging in 2020, as COVID19 has disrupted seasons and caused delays and cancellations to various sport activities. This research project will look into this challenge, exploring the many constraints that are in place and creating a simple tool and visualisation interface to embed into current practice to address the scheduling problem.

Required knowledge

Proficient programming skills, ideally some knowledge of optimisation