Ipswich Town Championship fixtures 2017/18: Ten things we learned from this morning’s schedule release

PUBLISHED: 10:32 21 June 2017 | UPDATED: 12:03 21 June 2017

Ipswich Town will again face Sheffield United - once dubbed 'the Norwich of the north' by Blues fans - following the Blades' promotion from League One. Photo: PA

Ipswich Town will again face Sheffield United - once dubbed 'the Norwich of the north' by Blues fans - following the Blades' promotion from League One. Photo: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Ipswich Town now know their schedule for the 2017/18 season following the release of the Championship fixture list this morning. STUART WATSON highlights a few of the main talking points.

John Terry starting life in the Championship at Portman Road?

Town start with a home game against Birmingham City on August 5. The Midlands side went from play-off hopefuls to relegation-fighters last season after Gary Rowett was controversially replaced by Gianfranco Zola in December, but have renewed ambition under the experienced Harry Redknapp.

The club’s Chinese owners appear prepared to splash the cash this summer. Ex-Town keeper David Stockdale has been signed from newly-promoted Brighton, while an offer has been made to 78-cap England international John Terry following his release by Chelsea.

Reasonable start

The mood surrounding Town hit an all-time low towards the back end of last season. Boss Mick McCarthy and owner Marcus Evans have faced criticism over style of play and spending respectively following the club’s lowest finish in 58 years and season ticket sales are down by around 2,000 this summer.

It’s imperative that the Blues start well if that narrative is to change and the opening August fixtures couldn’t have been much kinder.

Birmingham at home is winnable, then there are trips to Barnsley – whose team has disintegrated over the last two transfer windows – and newly-promoted Millwall, whose sole aim will be to survive.

A wait for the derby

Town hosted Norwich in the fourth game of last season (drawing 1-1), but there’s a long wait for the first East Anglian derby this time around – the Canaries at Portman Road on Saturday, October 21 (subject to change).

By then we should know how our Norfolk neighbours’ experiment with a new-look structure is working. They have gone for a continental-style backroom set-up and mimicked Huddersfield by appointing young German head coach Daniel Farke from Borussia Dortmund’s youth set-up.

‘Norwich of the North’

Sheffield United are back in the Championship following a six-year absence after Chris Wilder masterminded a 100-point title-winning season. It means that Town can renew a rivalry with a club that Blues fans started dubbing ‘the Norwich of the north’ following some feisty affairs in the late 1990s.

Ipswich are at Bramall Lane on Saturday, October 14. The Blades, who have re-signed striker Ched Evans this summer, travel to Portman Road on Saturday, March 10.

United had two players sent off late on when these two teams last met back in February 2011. Damien Delaney, David Norris and Connor Wickham scored the goals in a 3-0 win for Town at Portman Road, with Rob Kozluk and Lee Williamson seeing red.

Midweek trip to Cardiff

Town fans face a 480-mile round trip to South Wales on Tuesday, October 31. There are also midweek trips to Sheffield Wednesday (Tues, March 6), Derby (Tues, Sept 12) and Millwall (Tues, Aug 15).

Spare a thought for those who have to travel to Suffolk in midweek though. The reverse fixtures against Cardiff and Sheffield Wednesday are also midweek, while Sunderland fans will make the 550-mile round trip to Portman Road on Tuesday, September 26 and South Yorkshire outfit Barnsley are in Suffolk on Tuesday, April 10.

Free weekends

The international breaks are schedule for September 2/3, October 7/8, November 11/12 and March 24/25.

FA Cup

The weekend of January 6/7 is kept free for the third round of the FA Cup. Round four is scheduled for Saturday, January 27, meaning Town’s home game against Wolves could be moved to midweek if either side progress.

Round five is scheduled for February 17 - the date set for Norwich v Ipswich at Carrow Road. If either the Blues or Canaries are still in the competition (Town haven’t got that far since 2007) then we could have a midweek East Anglian derby.

No boat trip?

Town fans have enjoyed taking a party boat down the Thames before the away game against Fulham in recent years. In 2015/16 it wasn’t possible due to the match being scheduled for midweek. This time it’s scheduled for New Years’ Day, so again the fun may not be possible.

FA Cup anniversary

May the sixth will mark the 40th anniversary of Town’s FA Cup triumph against Arsenal. On that day, a Sunday, the Blues will host Middlesbrough in their final game of the Championship season.

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