You might think that a question like “When will they announce the Premier League schedule?” is pretty straightforward. But as with so many things in English football, to us outsiders, it can be really confusing.
Updated May 7, 2021: The Premier League has announced the 2021-22 fixtures will be released at 0900 British Time on June 16, 2021. We also know that the English Football League will release their 2021-22 schedule on June 24, 2021.
Now, why did this take so long, and why is the Premier League scheduled so confusing? Let us sort it out for you.
It’s Not Just the Premier League Fixtures
The people who create the English soccer schedule don’t just have the Premier League to deal with. There are multiple leagues and cups in English soccer, so figuring out who plays on which days means coordinating with the Premier League, the Football League and the Football Association (who runs the FA Cup), for starters.
But that doesn’t take into account the international element. Each English football season isn’t just English, it’s also European, and international in a broader sense. There are FIFA international breaks to consider, when players go home to play for their countries, as well as dates for the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. All of these are vying for space in an increasingly crowded English football fixtures list.
2021-22 English Football Schedule: What We Know
We know that the Premier League season starts the weekend of August 14, 2021, and it ends on May 22, 2022.
We now know that the 2021-22 Premier League fixtures will be released on June 16, 2021.
We know the Football League season starts the weekend of August 7. League One’s last day before the playoffs is the weekend of April 30, 2022. League Two and the Championship end their seasons the week after, then go into playoffs.
We know that the Football League will announce all its 21-22 fixtures on June 24.
We know the 2022 Football League Playoff Finals — the promotion finals — are May 21 (League One), May 28 (League Two), and May 29 (Championship). Those are all at Wembley Stadium in London.
We know that the First Round of the Carabao / EFL / League Cup is the same as the Football League start date, the week of August 7, 2021. We know the EFL Cup Final is February 27, 2022, at Wembley.
We know when the next international breaks are.
2021-22 English Football Schedule: What We Don’t Know
We don’t know any dates for the 2021-22 FA Cup.
We don’t know round dates, other than the first round and the final, for the League Cup.
Perhaps most importantly for us groundhoppers itching to plan trips, we don’t know when Premier League and Football League games will be happening mid-week.
Why Setting Up the English Football Schedule is So Damn Confusing
Here’s the deal: The Premier League has 20 teams, and they all play each other twice. That’s 38 games. In the Football League, each division has 24, for a total of 46 games.
So let’s take the Premier League. If you start August 7 and end on May 22, that’s 41 weekends. But you have to subtract four weekends for international breaks, putting us at 37. Subtract two more for Rounds 3 and 4 of the FA Cup, when Premier League teams will be participating. Now we’re at 35 weekends. So, at the very least, Premier League teams have to play during the week at least three times, to make 38 games happen in 35 weeks.
But which weeks?
Also figure that UEFA has claimed 14 midweeks for their competitions, and the international breaks take out another four. The FA Cup and League Cup probably need a few more, and, well … it’s confusing.
In the Football League, they have to play during the week on nine occasions — 11 in the Championship, who also take international breaks! This is why the Championship is such a tough league.
The Bottom Line for the 2021-22 Premier League Schedule
All we really know at this point is when the 2021-22 English soccer season starts (August), when it ends (May), the European dates, and a few other things. When will we know the 2021-22 Premier League fixtures? Probably June. And don’t forget that even after the schedule is released, it will be changed for TV.
So stay tuned!