Championship fixtures 2016/17: September and February defining months for Newcastle
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | June 23, 2016
When Newcastle United were last relegated from the Premier League, they bounced straight back winning the Championship title at a canter.
Title tilt talk of the Toon
If the Magpies are to live up to their tag of outright favourites (9/4) and promotion fancied (4/5) with Coral, then they must come through a stern autumn examination in September and the reverse fixtures in February.
Rafael Benitez will tackle the tough 46-game slog that is the Championship in front of the Toon Army for the first time. It should prove a stern test for the Champions League, UEFA Cup and Europa League-winning Spaniard.
Big games early autumn and end of winter
While Newcastle kick the Football League season off away to Fulham on Friday, August 5th, it is the following month that will make or break their challenge.
September sees them first travel to perpetual play-off disappointments Derby County and QPR before a home game with Wolves. The Magpies must then play fellow relegated sides Aston Villa (7/2 to go up and 9/1 for the title) away and Norwich City (5/2 and 10/1 in those markets) on Tyneside.
All five of the reverse fixtures take place in February, meaning there can be no resting on their laurels for Newcastle following the busy Christmas and New Year period.
Dates for Magpies’ and Canaries’ diaries
With no high-profile departures apart from long-serving defender Steven Taylor at St James’ Park, the Toon Army will remain expectant of a title tilt. Controversial Magpies owner Mike Ashley has consented to the sale of key performers in the past, however.
As when any relegated teams meet, particular significance will be placed upon the encounters between Villa, Newcastle and the Canaries. Punters will find the dates below for fixtures when the first three in the pre-season outright betting on the Championship play:
- Saturday, September 24th: Aston Villa v Newcastle
- Wednesday, September 28th: Newcastle v Norwich
- Tuesday, December 13th: Norwich v Aston Villa
- Tuesday, February 14th: Norwich v Newcastle
- Saturday, February 18th: Newcastle v Aston Villa
- Saturday, April 1st: Aston Villa v Norwich
Derby day late for Villa
Appointing Roberto Di Matteo as manager and making Bournemouth captain Tommy Elphick his first signing has given the Villans more hope of bouncing straight back, but there are other interesting opponents for the West Midlands outfit.
Villa play beaten 2016 Championship play-off finalists Sheffield Wednesday on the opening weekend (Sunday, August 7th) and also meet Derby, coached by rumoured long-time managerial target Nigel Pearson, within the first four games.
The Second City derbies between the Villans and Birmingham take place at key times (scheduled for Saturday, October 29th and Saturday, April 22nd which is the third last matchday of the regular season).
Old hands and fresh faces
With the Rams joining fellow play-off semi-final losers Brighton and Hove Albion as 3/1 to do better and go up this term, it remains to be seen whether Di Matteo, Chris Hughton and Pearson’s previous Championship successes with other clubs count for anything in the 2016/17 promotion picture.
Another Midlands team, Burton Albion, play their first-ever second tier fixture away at local rivals Nottingham Forest with manager Nigel Clough returning to his old stomping ground for his playing career.
The last two League One champions also face one another on the opening weekend of the Championship campaign with Bristol City entertaining resurgent Wigan Athletic. Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy will welcome his hometown team, promoted Barnsley, to Portman Road.
Championship opening weekend fixtures
Friday, August 5th
Fulham (2/1) v Newcastle (11/10)
Saturday, August 6th
Birmingham (11/8) v Cardiff (6/4)
Blackburn v Norwich (7/4) v Norwich (5/4)
Bristol City (5/4) v Wigan (7/4)
Derby (Evens) v Brighton (11/5)
Huddersfield (13/10) v Brentford (8/5)
Ipswich (5/6) v Barnsley (11/4)
Nottingham Forest (8/11) v Burton (3/1)
Reading (10/11) v Preston North End (5/2)
Rotherham (6/4) v Wolves (6/4)
Sunday, August 7th
QPR (10/11) v Leeds (5/2)
Sheffield Wednesday (11/8) v Aston Villa (6/4)
You’ll find more Championship content on Coral’s dedicated page.