EFL 2021/22: When does the Championship season start?
The new EFL season is now under a week away, with fans of Championship clubs dreaming of promotion to the Premier League.
Last season it was Norwich City, Watford and Brentford who achieved promotion to the top flight of English football.
Heading in the other direction were Fulham, West Brom and Sheffield United, all of whom were relegated from the Premier League and are now desperate to bounce back at the first time of asking.
They are expected to face stiff competition from the likes of Bournemouth and Swansea City, who narrowly missed out on promotion last season.
Also new to the Championship this year are the teams who gained promotion from League One – Hull City, Peterborough United and Blackpool.
When does the 2021/22 EFL season start?
The new Championship season will begin on Friday August 6.
It is an attractive fixture that opens the season, with two promotion contenders doing battle as Bournemouth take on West Brom.
The other matches on the opening weekend take place on Saturday August 7 and Sunday August 8 – by the end of the first weekend all 24 Championship clubs will have started their league campaigns.
Championship action is set to run until May 7 2022, after which the play-offs will take place to decide the third and final promotion spot for this season.
League One and League Two both begin on August 7.
Ipswich, Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday are now seen as the teams to beat in League One, while the Class of 92’s Salford City are the favourites in League Two.
What are the EFL’s opening day fixtures?
After Bournemouth v West Brom on the opening day, there are 11 other matches on the first weekend of the Championship season.
Sheffield United mark their return to the second tier with a home match with Birmingham City on Saturday, while Fulham have a testing opener at home to Middlesbrough on Sunday.
The others matches to take place on Saturday include Wayne Rooney’s Derby County against Huddersfield, Blackburn v Swansea and Luton against Peterborough.
Bristol City will play Blackpool, Cardiff take on Barnsley, Stoke meet Reading, QPR face Millwall and Preston host Hull.
The opening weekend in the Championship ends with Coventry v Nottingham Forest on August 8.
When are the big EFL matches in the 2021/22 season?
Two of the sides relegated from the Premier League do battle on just the third week of the season when West Brom play Sheffield United on August 18.
October is a big month for the Baggies as they face Birmingham in a derby (16) as well as key games against Swansea (20) and Fulham (30).
Fulham host Sheffield United in a key match a week before Christmas on December 18, while the return fixture on May 7 is scheduled to be the 46th game for both sides – with potentially huge stakes.
Swansea and Cardiff fans will have the dates of October 16 and April 2 – the dates of the two South Wales derbies - circled on their calendars.
The pressure will be on for Rooney when Derby take on rivals Nottingham Forest early in the season on August 28, with the away game to follow on January 22.