Newcastle face Fulham in Championship opener

22 Jun

Burton Albion

Burton, second in League One last season, face their first-ever match against former European champions Nottingham Forest on Saturday, 8 August

Relegated Newcastle United will kick off the 2016-17 English Football League season with a Championship trip to Fulham on Friday, 5 August.

Norwich and Aston Villa, who finished below Newcastle in the Premier League last term, start at Blackburn and Sheffield Wednesday respectively.

Burton Albion begin their first season in the second tier away at neighbours Nottingham Forest.

League One winners Wigan are at 2014-15 third-tier champions Bristol City.

Play-off winners Barnsley, who beat Millwall at Wembley to earn promotion to the Championship, start their season at Portman Road against Ipswich Town.

In the pick of the Boxing Day matches, former European champions Villa, returning to the second tier for the first time in 28 years, are at home to Burton, who were in non-league until 2009.

The Clough factor

Nigel Clough<!–

Nigel Clough made 324 appearances for Nottingham Forest in his playing career, and managed Burton Albion to League One promotion last term

Burton’s trip to the City Ground to face Nottingham Forest will not only be the first meeting between the two neighbours, but will also see Brewers boss Nigel Clough take his side to a club he and his family will forever be entwined with.

Clough had two spells at Forest, playing under his legendary father Brian, who won the European Cup twice with the club before his son’s playing career had started.

Nigel Clough’s first managerial role came at Burton, taking the Staffordshire side out of non-league for the first time ever seven years ago before leaving for spells at Derby and Sheffield United.

But he returned to the near-7,000-capacity Pirelli Stadium in December 2015 after Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink left for QPR and led the Brewers to a second-placed finish in League One.

The league of derbies

Second city derby, East Midlands derby and East Anglian derby<!–

The Championship will play host to the second city, East Midlands and East Anglian derbies

This season will see a bumper crop of derby fixtures across the Championship, including the first second city derby between Villa and Birmingham City in the league for five years on 29 October at St Andrews.

Villa host neighbours Wolves on 15 October and Blues travel the 19 miles to Molineux on 20 August.

Another highly-anticipated rivalry every season is when Derby meet Forest in the East Midlands derby, the first of which is scheduled to take place on 10 December at the iPro Stadium.

The Rams also take on East Midlands rivals Burton on 27 August, while the East Anglian derby between Ipswich and Norwich reignites after a one-season break on 20 August at Portman Road.

The best of League One and League Two

MK Dons v Wimbledon<!–

MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon have faced each other three times in cup competitions before, but never in the league until this season

In League One, Bolton Wanderers will begin life back in the third tier of English football for the first time since 1992-93 with a home game against Sheffield United.

Relegated Charlton and MK Dons are away at Bury and Shrewsbury respectively, while in a quirk of fate Rochdale host Peterborough United on the opening day for the third season in a row.

The 2016-17 season will also be the first time AFC Wimbledon and MK Dons will face each other in the league, with the first game set to be on 10 December at Stadium MK.

In the fourth tier, relegated Blackpool start with a home match against Exeter City, five years after they were relegated from the Premier League.

And Carlisle United supporters face a mammoth 350-mile opening weekend trip to Portsmouth.

The League One season will conclude on 30 April and the play-off final held on 20 May – one week earlier than the rest of the English Football League, because of the FA Cup final being played at Wembley on Saturday, 27 May.


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