2019/20 Premier League fixtures: City ready to dine at the top table
PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 June 2019 | UPDATED: 09:13 13 June 2019
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Norwich City earned their golden ticket to the Premier League against all the odds. With the release of the fixtures at 9am it becomes very real. Paddy Davitt looks at what goes into a special day in the football calendar.
No, it was not a dream. This is real. Norwich City now belong to the richest, most globally watched league on planet football.
That magic carpet ride through the Championship, Teemu Pukki's goals, Emi Buendia's flicks, the blossoming of young talent, all lead to today's release of the 2019/20 Premier League fixtures and the dawning realisation of what lies ahead.
This is the moment when Daniel Farke, his current squad and thousands of fans can map out the journey. The countdown to the big kick off, on the weekend of August 10, is finally underway.
Farke will be one of four coaches sampling the top table for the first time. Chris Wilder, Dean Smith and Graham Potter have zero Premier League experience in the dug out.
But Farke himself and his current crop defied the odds to earn a shot at the top flight and there will be more history to write from the opening bell.
City memorably beat Arsenal 4-2 on the inaugural day of the newly-created Premier League in August 1992 but since then it has proved slim pickings. Paul Lambert's collective ground out a draw at Wigan in 2011, Alex Neil's play-off winners were denied a win in controversial circumstances against Crystal Palace in 2015; Cameron Jerome's disallowed 'goal' by Simon Hooper and all that.
In broader terms, Norwich have never won their first game immediately following a promotion season and only eight of their opening 25 top division fixtures.
City's promotion coupled with Ipswich Town's relegation to League One means there will be a two-league gap between the East Anglian rivals for the first time since 1937/38.
The release of the Premier League fixtures, one week ahead of the Football League's fixture list, is another tangible signal where the balance of power currently resides.
Norwich can relish the challenge of mixing it with Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea. Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp. Sergio Aguero and Mo Salah.
City were touted with an opening day trip to Champions League finalists Tottenham on Tuesday in a leaked online document that bore all the hallmarks of a hoax.
But the planning for the release of the new season's top flight fixtures began at the start of this year. Here, Glenn Thompson from Atos, the company who help compile the programme, provides the inside track.
- When does the work on the next season's fixture list start?
I get the playing dates from the Premier League. I then start to have a look at how we could fit them into a fixture sequence.
International dates and the dates for the European club competitions are known in advance.
The Football Association then adds in the dates for its competitions and what you are left with are the dates when you can play league and EFL Cup matches.
- Are there any rules you have to adhere to?
There are the "golden rules" of sequencing.
In any five matches there should be a split of three home fixtures and two away, or vice versa.
Wherever possible, a club will not have more than two home or away matches in a row, and will be home and away around FA Cup ties.
We will also strive to prevent any club from having to start or finish the season with two home or two away matches because it would be unfair for a team to finish with two away games, especially if they are looking for points.
Around the Christmas period, if you are at home on Boxing Day you will be away on New Year's Day, or the equivalent date. And we will also try to maintain a Saturday home-away sequence throughout the season wherever possible.
- What happens next?
Around March, the Premier League sends to each of its member clubs a form asking them to fill in three things:
Are there any dates you wish not to be at home?
That is answered in conjunction with the local police. Which club do you want to pair with? Are there any teams you do not wish to play at home on Boxing Day?
- Can you satisfy all of the requests?
From looking at the sequence, we know how many of these dates we can meet. When we can't, the Premier League will ask the club which of the requests are most important.
We cannot accommodate everything but, on average, we satisfy higher than 85 per cent every year.