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 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 said: “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, 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.”
United manager Alan Pardew is desperate to avoid playing two games in three days.
n FORMER Newcastle striker Obafemi Martins could be back in the Premier League this season.
West Bromwich Albion have inquired about signing the striker on loan – but his club, Rubin Kazan, are only interested in a permanent deal.
Rubin are looking to recoup around £3m from the sale of Martins, who spent three years at United after joining in a £10m deal from Inter Milan in 2006.
Martins scored the winner in the Carling Cup final the season before last during a loan spell at Birmingham.