If you are planning to go watch soccer games in England, and if you are flexible about when to go, it pays to know the best times to plan your trip.
And now that the 2017-18 schedule is fully out — with some caveats — we can all start planning for the best times to take our English soccer trips. The main thing we’re looking for? Maximum number of games while we are there.
For some quick definitions, here is a guide to all the leagues and cups in English soccer.
Caveat #1: The Schedules Will Change Slightly
Right now, for example, in the Premier League every game is listed as Saturday at 3 p.m. But at some point the television networks will get involved and move some to earlier or later on Saturday, to Sunday afternoon, and maybe even to Monday evening. The same thing is true in the Championship (one level below Premier League), where the occasional game will go to Friday or Monday evening.
So, when do the TV changes happen?
- For August and September games: July 12
- For October and November games: August 11
- For December and January games: October 12
- For February games: December 12
- For March games: January 25
- For April games: February 26
- For May games: April 6
- For the very last day: after everybody has played 37 games.
- For August games: June 28
- For September games: July 14
- For games 10/7 through 11/11: August 25
- For games 11/18 through 12/9: September 29
- For games 12/16 through 1/13: November 3
- For games 1/20 through 2/3: December 8
- For games 2/10 through 3/3: December 29
- For games 3/10 through 3/31: January 19.
- After that, stay tuned.
I can help sort through all of this for you!
Caveat #2: Cup Games and European Competitions
Sometimes it’s easier to get into a Cup game than a League game, but all we know about cup games right now is that the League Cup starts August 8. The second round is two weeks later, but we won’t know who is playing until the 9th. The FA Cup doesn’t involve fully professional teams until November.
As for Europe, several English teams are in the Champions League or Europa League, but all we know now is when the games are — not who is playing at those times. Tickets for these, especially Champions League, are super tough.
Below, I have at least taken into account when all these rounds are. You just have to accept planning your trip before you really know who’s playing whom or where in these games.
Here is everything I know about buying tickets for English soccer.
Caveat #3: International Breaks
I often hear from people who are planning a trip and are then confused why there aren’t any Premier League games. That’s because of international (and sometimes FA Cup) breaks. Here are those for 2017-18, when there will be no Premier League games:
- Weekend of September 2
- Weekend of October 7
- Weekend of November 11
- Weekend of January 6 (because the Premier League teams are playing in the FA Cup)
- Weekend of January 27 (many will still be in the FA Cup that weekend)
- February 17 (FA Cup again)
- Weekend of March 24
Best Times To Go to England for Soccer, 2017-18 Season
Right, so let’s get to it. I have taken into account here league schedules, international breaks, cups, European competitions, midweek games, and so on.
First Half of August
You might be going anyway, since school is still out. The weather is great, and even most English fans are still optimistic about their team’s chances.
- August 3: Europa League
- August 4-6: Football League Starts
- August 8-10: League Cup
- August 12-14: Premier League starts, Football League plays
- August 15: Championship plays
- August 16-17: Europa League
Middle of September
The weather is still great, tourist crowds are down, and Europe gets into swing
- September 9-10: All leagues
- September 12-13: Football League plays, Champions League Group Stage
- September 14: Europa League Group Stage
- September 16-17: All leagues
- September 19-20: League Cup
Late October, Early November
One time I always go: lots of games, FA Cup starts for real, weather hanging in there.
- October 24-25: League Cup
- October 28-29: All Leagues
- October 31: Championship plays
- October 31 and November 1: Champions League Group Stage
- November 2: Europa League Group Stage
- November 3-5: FA Cup First Round Proper (when League One and Two enter, often against amateur teams)
- November 4-5: Premier League and Championship
The UK is sort of starting a thing called Brits-Giving. I know; let’s move on. And not think too much about the weather.
- November 18-19: All leagues
- November 21-22: Champions League Group Stages plus Football League
- November 23, Thanksgiving Day: Europa League Group Stage
- November 25-26: All leagues
- November 27: League Cup Quarterfinals
- November 28-29: Premier League
- December 2-3: FA Cup Second Round plus Premier League and Championship
In many ways, this is the MotherShip of times to go. London is great at Christmas, there are lots of games, and if you don’t mind being outside in 34-degree rainy weather, going to games is awesome!
- December 23: All leagues (some games might move to the 24th)
- December 26: All leagues (a few games will move to the 27th, maybe 28th)
- December 30: All leagues
- January 1: All leagues (some games might go to January 2 or 3)
- January 5-7: FA Cup Third Round (when Premier League teams enter) plus League One and League Two
- January 9-10: League Cup Semis, Leg One
Middle of February
Europe is rocking now, the leagues and FA Cup are heating up, and the League Cup has its finale at Wembley Stadium. Weather: just bring layers.
- February 10-11: All leagues
- February 13-15: Champions League Round of 16, Europa League Round of 32, Leagues One and Two
- February 17-18: FA Cup Round of 16, Football League
- February 20-21: Champions League Round of 16, Championship
- February 22: Europa League Round of 32
- February 24-25: All leagues
- February 25: League Cup Final
Late March, Early April
Easter is on April 1, spring break is somewhere around this time, and the weather is, um, improving I guess. Still raining, but warmer!
- March 31: All leagues
- April 1: Premier League
- April 2: Football League
- April 3-5: Champions League Quarterfinals, Europa League Quarterfinals
- April 7-8: All leagues
- April 10-12: Championship, Champions League Quarterfinals, Europa League Quarterfinals
This is a big window, but the point is that any time in May is fun, even if there aren’t many games after the first two weekends. There is plenty of drama, with league seasons ending, cup finals, and playoffs. Weather is possibly quite nice.
- May 1-3: Champions League and Europa League Semifinals (just in case any English teams are still playing)
- May 5-6: Last Day for Football League, next-to-last for Premier League
- ~May 8: Football League Playoffs begin
- May 13: Premier League Last Day
- May 15: Europa League Final (in France, but might have an English team)
- ~May 16: Football League Playoffs End
- May 19: FA Cup Final
- May 26: Championship Playoff Final and Champions League Final (in Ukraine)
- May 27: League One Playoff Final
- May 28: League Two Playoff Final