The success of a sports competition heavily depends on its timetable, which defines who will play whom, when, and where. Sports timetables…need to be fair and organisationally practical.

— David Van Bulck & Dries Goossens (2020). Handling fairness issues in time-relaxed tournaments with availability
constraints. Computers & Operations Research (115).

The Challenge

Sports scheduling is a complex task, fraught with competing objectives, constraints, and requests. The challenge lies in accommodating logistical constraints (such as team availability) while also ensuring fairness in match allocation and timing. Existing solutions often work only for specific setups, tournament structures, or number of teams, leaving a gap for a more generalised solution. This is where we step in, offering an application that can handle a diverse spectrum of sports scheduling challenges, with the ability to add the specific set of rules that each schedule requires.


The Approach

Our approach is made possible through the combination of advanced computational techniques with our extensive experience in producing schedules for sports organisations. On the computational side, we use a novel mixture of evolutionary algorithms, constraint programming, and integer programming to tackle the intricacies of sports scheduling. But it is our exposure to a wide variety of scheduling problems that has allowed us to develop a truly versatile scheduling application. We have a comprehensive understanding of the diverse scheduling rules employed across different sports organisations. This wealth of experience enables us to offer a solution that goes beyond the limitations of existing tools, with the flexibility to accommodate the myriad challenges unique to each scheduling problem.

The Solution

Our solution, SchedulOpt, is a user-friendly web app that generates feasible sports schedules swiftly, often within seconds. We have an easy to use way of setting up the basics of your scheduling, and adding scheduling rules and constraints that the schedule should follow. Entering this information is streamlined so that you can be creating schedules within minutes of opening the application. This speed and ease-of-use mean sports administrators can focus more on the game and less on logistics. The algorithms we have developed are readily transportable to other problems and industries that require a rigorous scheduling solution.


The Impact

Our optimisation techniques ensure fairer schedules. This means that teams have more balanced distribution of things like recovery time, home and away patterns, and bye distribution, resulting in games where the winner is determined by skill rather than the luck of the draw. At the grass roots level, our multi-comp solution allows the competing demands of parents and carers to be accommodated with time and date preferences, ensuring all children have the opportunity to participate in their chosen competitive sport.