Will Swindon Town be playing a home fixture on Boxing Day?

2015/16 fixture release day is 17th June, but will Swindon Town be playing a Boxing Day fixture at the County Ground? 

The last season Swindon Town were at home on Boxing Day was the 2006/07 season, playing Wycombe Wanderers in a 2-1 victory.

Since Boxing Day 2006, Swindon have been allocated eight successive festive fixtures away – with trips to Yeovil Town, Leyton Orient, Charlton Athletic, Exeter City, Torquay United, Leyton Orient* [postponed], Brentford and most recently Walsall. Playing away has yielded okay results with three wins, two draws and two defeats.

In an attempt to understand why the fixture scheduling at the Football League has given Town eight successive away Boxing Day fixtures, two Town fans – Carole Yeo and Anthony Whitaker – have been trying to bring this to the attention of the Football League and secure a home festive fixture for 2015/16.

In attempting to explain their rationale for the eight successive Boxing Day away trips, the Football League have explained:

Thank you for your email.

We have raised your query with our fixtures and competitions department who have advised the following.

Swindon Town are one of three teams in League 1 who do not have a natural pairing, others are Crewe Alexandra and Gillingham. Pairing are when clubs are linked together, usually due to proximity and thus avoid fixture clashes, assisting with club and local authority requests. You will note that all of these three teams are away on Boxing Day so it was difficult to force a Swindon change to be at home in any of the available slots in the pairing grid.  There are a number of potential knock-on effects of pairings. One such example may be knocking all South Yorkshire clubs to be at home and all permutations have to be considered. However the fixture officer was aware of the frequency of away games you note and will certainly look at this for next season.

By way of some background, The Football League works with the clubs themselves in attempting to shape fixture lists that meet the majority of clubs’ approval. This is due to the complex methodology involved in the compilation of the fixture lists. The fixtures are worked on for many months by The Football League’s competitions department and our fixture scheduling partners. During this time all considerations and requests from all clubs are considered by The Football League, to get to a position where most are satisfied with the final list.

Along with certain basic competition rules on home and away frequencies, often there are several circumstances which dictate when fixtures will fall and many are specific to individual clubs (such as when near neighbours are home/away or whether there is a local public event/activity taking place on a certain date). Once the fixture lists have been compiled, Clubs will consult the Football League’s competitions department to attempt to mould their fixture list in their favour but it is extremely difficult to meet all clubs’ requests.

There may be specific reasons why a club has indicated they might wish to play a certain fixture at home or away so it might be worth consulting with the Club regarding a specific date/change.

A couple of historical online resources may provide further insight into the process for you.

Football League FAQ – Fixtures Explained http://www.football-league.co.uk/features/20120618/behind-the-scenes-compiling-the-fixture-list_2293307_2813098

News story on The Guardian from 2013 regarding the compilation process http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2013/jun/15/fixtures-premier-league-football-league-compiled

Thank you for contacting The Football League.

What is confusing is the Football League’s assertion that Swindon Town “do not have a natural pairing” should not automatically imply the Boxing Day match be played away from the County Ground. Perhaps, this highlights that the decision has historically been the club’s. Therefore playing two games as hosts over the festive period on the Saturday before Christmas and the New Years Day game, thereby increasing revenue..?

With League One 2015/16 devoid of southern teams and Town’s nearest clubs geographically are Coventry, Walsall and Millwall; Swindon are likely to be playing one of these three, possibly as hosts if the Football League have finally listened to fans’ concerns…

So here are our predicted League One Boxing Day pairings:

  • Burton Albion vs Peterborough Utd
  • Bury vs Fleetwood Town
  • Bradford City vs Blackpool
  • Gillingham vs Colchester Utd
  • Port Vale vs Doncaster Rovers
  • Rochdale vs Barnsley
  • Scunthorpe Utd vs Shrewsbury Town
  • Sheffield Utd vs Oldham Athletic
  • Southend United vs Coventry City
  • Swindon Town vs Millwall
  • Walsall vs Chesterfield
  • Wigan Athletic vs Crewe Alexandra

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