Newcastle face tough schedule after Uefa and police refuse to budge over fixtures

 

Newcastle could yet avoid a fixture pile-up at the start of the new
campaign after it emerged that they may have to play twice in less than
48 hours.

The first leg of the Magpies' Europa League play-off tie is scheduled for Thursday, August 23 - two days before a televised Barclays Premier League trip to Chelsea which will kick off at 5.30pm and be screened live by ESPN.

They first asked for the league game to be moved back 24 hours, but were refused permission by the Metropolitan Police with the Notting Hill Carnival due to get underway the same day, and UEFA subsequently rejected a request for the qualifying match to be played a day earlier.

However, the governing body today confirmed that a re-arrangement may be possible if both Newcastle's opponents and the two national associations agree to a switch after the draw, which takes place on Friday, August 10.

A UEFA spokesman told Press Association Sport: "In principle, UEFA is not in a position to change the requested fixture from Thursday to Wednesday or Tuesday.

"However, after the draw ceremony for the play-offs, if the opponent agrees to re-schedule the match date to the Tuesday, August 21 before 1830 CET, the UEFA Administration will be open to consider the request.

"Written approval is required from the opponent club as well as the respective national associations of both teams.

"Please note that should Newcastle United FC be drawn to play the match on August 23 and the opponent does not agree to change the match date, the match will be maintained as such."

Newcastle outlined the situation today as they confirmed a list of six league fixtures to be screened live between the start of the season and the end of November.

A club statement said: "Supporters will notice that our fixture against Chelsea remains scheduled for Saturday, August 25, with our Europa League fourth qualifying round fixture on the preceding Thursday.

"Prior to the TV selections being made and in accordance with normal procedure, the club made an application to move the Chelsea game to Sunday, August 26.

"Unfortunately, the Metropolitan Police refused this request on the basis of other scheduled activities in and around London at this time.

"The club and the Premier League subsequently made representations to UEFA to request that our Europa League match be moved from the Thursday to the Wednesday in order to avoid the team having to play two games in three days.

"UEFA unfortunately rejected this request."

One man who may be slightly less concerned about the early-season fixture congestion than some of his team-mates is central defender Steven Taylor.

The 26-year-old has spent the past seven months working his way back to fitness after rupturing his Achilles tendon in December last year, and is relishing the prospect of his return to action.

He was due to resume training with his team-mates today as the bulk of the squad, having completed fitness assessments earlier this week, got together for the first time, and he is already targeting the opening-day visit of Tottenham to Tyneside for his comeback.

Taylor told NUFC TV: "That's going to be the best thing. I have missed the banter, I have missed being in amongst the lads and training with them.

"I just can't wait to get back. It's going to feel like a little kid in a sweet shop.

"That first game of the season, for me, is the most important thing. That's all am gearing up for now.

"Everything I do now is just ready for that Tottenham Hotspur game.

"I just can't wait to get started again and finish off where I left off.

"Hopefully this club is going places. Last year, we proved a lot of people wrong and hopefully, we will do that again this year.

"We have got the players, it's a tight, great team spirit we have got here. Maintain that now and let's see what happens."

PA

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