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West Midlands football clubs see schedule impacted by Commonwealth Games

Wolves will not stage a home pre-season friendly while Albion will kick-off their Championship campaign on the road due to disruption caused by the Commonwealth Games.

Wolves have traditionally staged a high-profile home friendly but will not do so this year.
Wolves have traditionally staged a high-profile home friendly but will not do so this year.

Birmingham 2022 coincides with the start of the new football season and clubs have agreed to help ease pressure on police resources when the region stages its biggest-ever sporting event.

Walsall scheduled their home pre-season fixtures earlier in July following discussions with local authorities, while all of Villa’s friendlies take place away from home.

Wolves have traditionally hosted a high-profile fixture at Molineux a week before the new season but will not do so this year, due to a clash with the opening weekend of the Games, which begin on July 28.

Matt Wild, general manager for football administration, told the Express & Star the club received a request from West Midlands Police for them not to schedule a match for that weekend.

“They asked us if we could play away on the last weekend in July and we obliged,” he said.

Bruno Lage’s men will instead conclude their pre-season campaign with an away fixture, with details to be confirmed soon.

Albion begin the Championship season that weekend and after discussions with local authorities it has been agreed with the EFL their first fixture will be away. Talks are ongoing over the scheduling of their first home match, due to take place a week later on the Games’ second weekend.

The potential for disruption at The Hawthorns is exacerbated by the swimming and diving events taking place just a mile away in Smethwick at the newly-built Sandwell Aquatics Centre.

Walsall have also agreed to work their calendar around the Games. The Saddlers would ideally have preferred to have hosted a high-profile home friendly a week before the League Two season begins but with the Games starting just a few days later agreed to schedule matches against Villa and Coventry earlier in the month. It is thought the club’s opening league fixtures have also been arranged to minimise disruption.

The Games take place over 11 days between July 28 and August 8 and will feature more than 5,000 athletes in 20 sports at venues across the region. More than a million tickets have been sold.

West Midlands Police have been contacted for comment on this story.

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