Newcastle United in UEFA fixture row

TOUGH START ... Newcastle fans will see their team play twice in three days.
TOUGH START ... Newcastle fans will see their team play twice in three days.

NEWCASTLE United will have to play two games in three days at the start of the season after UEFA refused to let them bring forward their first Europa League play-off game.

The Magpies made an appeal to both UEFA and the Metropolitan Police to switch either the first leg of their play-off game, or their Premier League clash at Chelsea, but both requests were rejected.

It means that Alan Pardew’s side must play their first qualifier on Thursday, August 23, before travelling to Stamford Bridge to take on Champions League winners Chelsea on Saturday, August 25.

The Chelsea game has been chosen for live TV coverage by ESPN, meaning it will kick-off at 5.30pm rather than 3pm, but that is still less than 48 hours after United’s first Europa League game will have finished.

A Newcastle club statement today said: “Supporters will notice that our fixture against Chelsea remains scheduled for Saturday, 23rd August, 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, 26th August. 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.”

The second leg of the Europa League qualifier takes place the following week, on Thursday, August 30, and the Premier league have agreed to United putting back their following home game against Aston Villa.

This will now take place on Sunday, September 2, kicking off at 4pm, but will not be televised.

Meanwhile, the second Tyne-Wear derby match of the campaign, at home against Sunderland, will remain on Saturday, April 13, but with an earlier kick-off time of 1.30pm at the request of Northumbria Police.

The first clash between the two sides, at the Stadium of Light, has been switched to Sunday, October 21 with a 1.30pm kick-off, where it will be televised live by Sky Sports.