Scheduling a non-professional indoor football league: a tabu search based approach

David Van Bulck (Corresponding author), Dries R. Goossens, Frits C.R. Spieksma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
125 Downloads (Pure)


This paper deals with a real-life scheduling problem of a non-professional indoor football league. The goal is to develop a schedule for a time-relaxed, double round-robin tournament which avoids close successions of games involving the same team in a limited period of time. This scheduling problem is interesting, because games are not planned in rounds. Instead, each team provides time slots in which they can play a home game, and time slots in which they cannot play at all. We present an integer programming formulation and a heuristic based on tabu search. The core component of this algorithm consists of solving a transportation problem, which schedules (or reschedules) all home games of a team. Our heuristic generates schedules with a quality comparable to those found with IP solvers, however with considerably less computational effort. These schedules were approved by the league organizers, and used in practice for the seasons 2009–2010 till 2016–2017.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)715-730
Number of pages16
JournalAnnals of Operations Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2019


  • Indoor football
  • Non-professional
  • Tabu search
  • Time-relaxed scheduling


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