The fixtures are out, and fans up and down the country will know the list like the back of their hand already as they plan for the 2018/19 campaign.
Opening day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and the final day of the season are key dates to look out for, but all supporters are keen to see when they’re up against their rivals.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, so we’ve taken a look at some of the local ties that are returning to the EFL calendar this season.
Sky Bet Championship
West Bromwich Albion
West Brom return to the Championship this year following an eight-year stay in the Premier League, and that makes for a few intriguing battles in the West Midlands.
Over the years, the rivalry with Aston Villa has been intense, and now the pair will clash in English football’s second tier for the first time in more than 30 years. They’ll have to wait a while, with the first meeting scheduled for Saturday 8 December at the Hawthorns, before the return clash in mid-February.
Villa boast the better head-to-head record, but the most recent victory went the way of the Baggies in a 2015 encounter at Villa Park.
Another local affair will be against Birmingham City, and the first Midlands meeting goes ahead at St Andrew’s on September 15, before facing off again at the end of March. Again, bragging rights sit with Darren Moore’s side, who have won three on the bounce against the Blues.
The promoted trio
Blackburn Rovers, Rotherham United and Wigan Athletic all have a host of local clashes to look forward to upon their return to the Championship.
Rovers’ closest clash is with Lancashire foes Preston North End, Wigan will come up against nearby Bolton Wanderers, and the Millers face Sheffield pair Wednesday and United, and face Yorkshire foes Leeds United in just their third game of the season.
- Sat 24 Nov: Preston North End v Blackburn Rovers
- Sat 24 Nov: Rotherham United v Sheffield United
- Sat 1 Dec: Bolton Wanderers v Wigan Athletic
- Sat 8 Dec: Sheffield Wednesday v Rotherham United
- Sat 16 Feb: Rotherham United v Sheffield Wednesday
- Sat 9 Mar: Blackburn Rovers v Preston North End
- Sat 9 Mar: Sheffield United v Rotherham United
- Sat 16 Mar: Wigan Athletic v Bolton Wanderers
Sky Bet League One
A Yorkshire contingent remains in League One and Barnsley’s return will see them make the brief trip to Doncaster Rovers twice.
The home side hasn’t lost this fixture since January 2011, and it’s the Tykes’ turn to try and extend that run when they meet on Saturday 24 November, before the mid-March return.
Those dates apply here, too. A first season in League One for Accrington sees them go up against Rochdale — perhaps not a rivalry but certainly a short journey, with less than an hour’s travelling time between grounds.
They’ve met 12 times over the past 11 seasons, with Rochdale winning nine of those. A November meeting at Spotland is up first, before Stanley play host on Saturday 16 March.
Sky Bet League Two
Macclesfield’s return to the EFL brings with it a couple of local clashes, following the relegations of Oldham Athletic and Bury from League One.
The Silkmen are a little further south than the Greater Manchester pair, but an hour’s drive up the M60 won’t be of great inconvenience.
The club have only played Oldham in the 1998/99 season, doing the double over the Latics; however, that couldn’t prevent them finishing bottom of the third tier.
Meetings with Bury have been more common and usually bring with them a few goals — 32 from the last 10, to be precise.
Mark Yates’ men travel to Boundary Park in their third game of the season and host Bury on 18 November, before welcoming Oldham to Moss Rose in mid-January, while the visit to the Shakers takes place at the beginning of March.