Sky Sports confirms opening live Championship games


Sky Sports has revealed which live games it will broadcast on the opening weekend of the 2016/17 Sky Bet Championship season in August.

Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle United will kick off the new season at Fulham’s Craven Cottage in the first live game of the campaign on Friday, August 5 (7.45pm).

Aston Villa will then be in front of the cameras on Sunday, August 7 (4.30pm) in Roberto Di Matteo’s first competitive game in charge, as they travel to last year’s play-off finalists Sheffield Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, Garry Monk’s Leeds travel to Loftus Road to face Queens Park Rangers, which will be also live in front of the Sky Sports cameras (12.00pm).

Further live matches for August and the early phase of the season are set to be confirmed in mid-July.

TV selections have historically been revealed in the days following the fixture list announcement, but in a joint commitment by both the EFL and Sky Sports, decisions on live games will now be made at the earliest possible convenience to assist attending supporters.

Sky Sports will screen 92 Sky Bet Championship fixtures live during the 2016/17 season, along with 20 games from Sky Bet League One and Sky Bet League Two.

Gary Hughes, Head of football at Sky Sports, said: “It’s always a special moment when the football fixtures are announced and we’re very excited to confirm our first set of English Football League games.

“The EFL has never been stronger and the three leagues always deliver drama, passion and great stories over the course of the season. 

“In 2016/2017 there’s more football than ever before to enjoy, and more ways to follow all the action that excites and entertains us.”

EFL Chief Executive, Shaun Harvey added: “Our first season rebranded as the EFL promises to be one of the most exciting yet for league football and we’re delighted the TV cameras will be with us every step of the way to showcase all the action as it unfolds at stadia up and down the country.

“As ever, whilst being supportive to our principal broadcast partner, who continue to provide our clubs with an important guaranteed income, we are extremely conscious of the impact moving fixtures for television can have on fans.

“We are in a regular dialogue with Sky to ensure that any Sky Bet EFL matches set to be displaced for live coverage are done so as soon as is practically possible.”

The 2016/17 season will draw to a close in Sky Bet League One on Sunday 30th April (12.00pm), in Sky Bet League Two on Saturday 6th May (3.00pm) and in the Sky Bet Championship on Sunday 7th May (12.00pm) with a number of key fixtures being selected for live coverage.

Sky Sports will show more than 700 matches from eight different leagues across its channels and digital outlets during the 2016/17 season.

For the first time, viewers will be able to enjoy regular live coverage of Premier League matches on Friday nights, in addition to those shown on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and Monday Night Football.

An expanded mobile clips service delivered by the Sky Sports’ Football Score Centre app will enable users to enjoy more highlights of Premier League and Football League matches on their phones on match days.

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