Tuesday 25 October 2016

English Defence League march forces Villa and United to play first game of season on a Friday

Jack Grealish could be in hot water with his club Aston Villa
Jack Grealish could be in hot water with his club Aston Villa

Aston Villa will host the Premier League's first Friday night match when Manchester United visit on August 14.

Changes to the fixture schedule for televised games has thrown up the anomaly for the new season, although it will become the norm in the 2016-17 campaign as part of the new multi-billion pound broadcasting deal.

Friday has been selected as the proposed Saturday evening kick-off was declined by West Midlands Police because of a clash with a planned English Defence League march, and United's potential involvement in a Champions League game the following Tuesday ruled out Sunday.

"A Saturday 5:30pm kick-off was initially suggested for this match and West Midlands Police confirmed that, under normal circumstances, that would be acceptable," said a statement from the Premier League.

"However, due to a planned English Defence League march that will take place in the region on Saturday August 15, and will require police resource, they requested that the Premier League consider avoiding scheduling the match on that date.

"Manchester United's participation in the UEFA Champions League, and a potential European match the following Tuesday, means that a Sunday slot could not be scheduled with any certainty."

The match will be shown on Sky, which will also televise champions Chelsea's opening game at home to Swansea on August 8, with a 5.30pm kick-off time.

Sunday on the opening weekend will see Arsenal at home to West Ham and Liverpool at Stoke also on television, with Manchester City's trip to West Brom moved to the Monday evening.

The new season kicks off with United hosting Tottenham at 12.45pm on August 8 live on BT Sport.

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