Fixture release day is one of the most eagerly anticipated days in the football calendar.

With the hysteria and excitement that surrounds it, it's fair to say that it is The Football League's equivalent of Christmas Day.

For supporters, players and managers alike it marks the start of the countdown to the new campaign and the moment many begin their preparations for the upcoming nine months of thrilling football.

Deciding when teams play one another doesn't happen overnight, though, and one of the key contributors to its organisation is Paul Snellgrove, Fixtures Officer for The Football League.

"From the outset, we look at schedules three or four years in advance, when FIFA sets their four-year cycle of international dates," Paul explained.

"On a season-by-season basis we will start looking at the schedule for the following campaign in November, which is when the process really gets started."

To get the ball rolling, Paul and his team meet with the Fixtures Working Party which compromises of officers from The Football League, the Premier League and the Football Association, as well as club representatives - two from the top flight, two from the Championship, one from League 1 and one from League 2.

The meeting gives each stakeholder a chance to review the previous season's fixtures and discuss any policies that need to be considered going forward into the next campaign.

Following the meeting, Paul then makes contact with all of the 72 member clubs to give them the opportunity to let The Football League know of any dates when they would like to avoid having a home match.

"Cardiff City have big rugby matches, as well as the Twenty20 cricket final to think about this year, Leeds United have the Chapeltown carnival, while Crewe have Creamfields music festival," Paul added.

"Also, Cheltenham Town and Doncaster Rovers have the race meetings to bear in mind.

"We manage to do around 80% of all requests each season."

The fixtures team will also liaise with various police forces up and down the country to accommodate any preferences they may have - which take precedence. The Police will categorise matches according to a number of factors in order to determine the degree of police presence that is required for a match, and this year there has been the added consideration of the Olympics coming to English shores.

"We have had to, at the request of the Metropolitan Police, have the majority of games in London during August as police-free or requiring the minimum level of policing possible.

"We also had to look very closely at Leyton Orient because of the Paralympic games, which was difficult. We had to give them an away game on September 1st and September 8th because they are the two biggest Paralympic days.

"The police requests take priority because one of the aims of the fixture process is for all games pass without incident and all supporters to enjoy the event safely."

After all of the club and police requests have been compiled, considered and confirmed, all of the information is fed to Atos - the company that is licensed to use the software, which is owned by The League, to produce the fixture list.

As well as accommodating the endless amount of requests when producing the fixtures, Paul and the team also have to contemplate issues such as the length of travel for midweek fixtures, which has been an area of deliberation over the past few years.

"Originally clubs asked for local games in midweek then they realised that they weren't maximising their potential revenue because they could get a better crowd on a Saturday.

"Now the desire is for mid-range travel, so that is a team which isn't classed as a local but doesn't necessitate an overnight stay.

"We spend quite a lot of time on trying to get the right balance between them travelling 250 miles whilst allowing them to maximise the potential of their local matches by having them on a Saturday rather than in midweek."

Despite having 14 years of experience, Paul doesn't deem the process to be getting any easier. Instead, the problems alter year after year with the ever-changing demographics of each division.

One of the difficulties this time around was in League 2, where there are groups of clubs in the north and in the south, with hardly any based centrally - which has caused problems when deciding the midweek fixtures.

To many, the compilation of the fixture list would provide a constant painful headache - Paul enjoys his job, though.

"It's very satisfying when you have been working towards something for a number of months to see the finished product.

"I look at people's reactions to the fixtures and, as long as we aren't fielding a lot of complaints from clubs, we will take comments like 'the fixtures aren't too bad this year' as praise and recognition we have done a difficult job well."

Of course, not every manager, player, chairman or supporter is delighted with the outcome of the fixture list but the group do their utmost to please everybody.

The task they face each year is like an endless game of chess, shifting a match to a certain date, which in turn has a knock-on affect on all of the other fixtures.

Despite only just publishing this season's calendar, the next two campaigns are already on the agenda.

And if that isn't enough to keep the fixtures team on their toes, the unpredictable English weather and a constant list of re-arranged matches certainly is.