The Premier League season for 2012/13 has yet to start and already Newcastle are the victims of their own success from the last campaign. Facing difficult opening matches against both Tottenham and Chelsea, the Television companies have sought to move both fixtures to Saturday evening slots, with viewing figures expected to be quite high. Further Magpie games are expected to follow suit.
However, it is the Chelsea away encounter which is causing most concern for the United hierarchy as it follows an anticipated Thursday leg in the Europa Cup qualifying round. It is entirely possible that the Toon may need to travel a remote part of the continent, such as Naftan Novopolotsk in Belarus, for an away tie on Thursday 23th August and then face Chelsea at 5.30pm just 2 days later at Stamford Bridge.
Apparently, the Metropolitan Police have refused to sanction the Chelsea match being switched to Sunday 26th August due to 'other' activities occurring in the capital that day. The main 'other' event appears to be the Notting Hill Carnival which is expected to attract approximately one million tourists to London during the weekend. Clearly with cuts to police funding they are unable to provide cover for two high profile events.
The only other option available to Newcastle is to ask UEFA to move the Europa League tie to Wednesday night or possibly even Tuesday. So far UEFA officials have claimed that they cannot approve of such a switch unless both teams agree in writing after the draw. With the first leg of the Champions League qualifiers due to be played that Wednesday night a clash of interests for TV rights could scupper the bid for moving United's match.
So, other than some bribery by Mike Ashley and co, Newcastle appear to doomed to be playing two important matches in three days, having already faced a Tottenham team under new manager Andre Villas-Boas on the previous Saturday evening. With Chelsea having automatically qualified for the group stages of the Champions League by virtue of their victory in Munich in May, they will be suitably refreshed in their attempt to reverse the 2-0 Cisse inspired loss from last season.
Newcastle can expect similar fixture problems should they qualify for the group stages of the Europa Cup, reflecting the need to reinforce the playing squad as soon as possible.
Whatever happens between now and the beginning of the campaign, United's challenging start to the season has now become that much more difficult.