Norwich City’s Premier League home opener could be first to go

Norwich City's first home match back in the Barclays Premier League may have to be moved – whether or not it is selected for live TV coverage.

Stoke City are scheduled to visit Carrow Road on Saturday, August 20 (3pm), the Canaries' opening home fixture on their return to the top flight.

But Stoke's involvement in the Uefa Europa League competition means they may have to play a European tie on the evening of Thursday, August 18, less than 48 hours before they are due to face Paul Lambert's men.

It is customary for teams involved in Thursday night games in Europe to have their next domestic league game moved back at least one day from Saturday.

Stoke are back in Europe for the first time in 37 years. They qualified for the Europa League as FA Cup runners-up, because winners Manchester City had already secured a Champions League place. Tottenham Hotspur, Fulham and Birmingham City have also qualified.

Tony Pulis' team will enter the competition at the third qualifying round stage, with first leg matches on July 28 and second leg on August 4. The third qualifying round draw will be on July 15.

If the Potters get through to the next stage, the play-off round, the two legs will be played on August 18 and 25, the first of those two games coming immediately before their scheduled trip to Norwich.

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TV selection is another factor that will inevitably mean changes to the Canaries' fixture list, but Sky Sports and ESPN have yet to announce their first list of Premier League games chosen for live coverage. Last summer, the first TV fixtures were announced a week into July.

Blank Saturdays are part and parcel of life in the Premier League because of games switched for TV coverage, international breaks, European involvement and the very fact that there are just 38 league fixtures to fulfil, as opposed to 46 in the Championship.

There are five blank Saturdays on City's initial fixture list for 2011-12, not counting Christmas Eve and the FA Cup third and fourth round dates.

The Canaries had nine Saturdays without a game during their last stay in the top flight, the Premiership campaign of 2004-05.