Crystal Palace co-chairman Stephen Browett is delighted with the schedule the club have been handed ahead of the 2014/15 Barclays Premier League season – and is particularly looking forward to a home Boxing Day fixture for the first time since he came into the club.
The Eagles have faced trips to Southampton, Cardiff City and Aston Villa on 26th December over the past three seasons following the takeover of the club by Browett, Steve Parish, Martin Long and Jeremy Hosking.
But the four co-owners can finally look forward to watching Boxing Day football at Selhurst Park, with the Saints coming to SE25 the day after Christmas this year.
Browett told cpfc.co.uk: “Some of the key things that I personally wanted from the fixture list have worked out. The club wanted the first game to be away to give the new pitch as much time as possible to be ready, so we’re pleased we’ve got that.
“Arsenal away is quite a daunting start, but I think the best possible time to have that fixture is right at the start of the season, off the back of the World Cup.
"They have plenty of players in Brazil this summer and they will all have an extended break from pre-season training, you would think. That gives us slightly more of a chance than we would have otherwise, so it’s a good time to go there.
“Having the last game at home is always good for the fans to hopefully have a bit of a celebration to round off the season and, of course, if there’s something riding on the game, it’s good to have the home atmosphere behind you.
“It’s been really disappointing that, on Boxing Day, when there’s no public transport, we’ve been handed away games ever since we came into Palace," the co-owner added.
“Finally, on Boxing Day for the first time since we brought the club, we’ve got a home game! That’s really good news because it’s always a family day – people tend to be at home with kids back from university or people coming back from abroad to see family, so it’s great that they can all come to a home game.”
Browett was also pleased that the fixture list didn’t throw up any long mid-week away trips for the club's loyal supporters.
Last season saw Palace travel to Everton on Wednesday 16th April and, although the night ended memorably as the Eagles triumphed 3-2 to reach the 40-point mark, Browett is pleased that the red and blue army will not be facing any similar evening trips this term.
“One thing I do hate is mid-week away games up north,” Browett admitted. “We’ve got three mid-week games, two are at home against Villa and Newcastle, and the only away one is a relatively short trip to Southampton.
“I think I’m right in saying that, since we brought the club, we have never lost a Tuesday night game at home. The atmosphere at Selhurst on a dark, chilly night, when the floodlights are bright and the crowd are in full voice is simply fantastic and I don’t think Villa or Newcastle will be relishing those trips.
“The really long away journeys we do have, to the likes of Burnley, Sunderland and Newcastle, are all on weekends and they are quite well spaced out, which is good for our fans.
“The London derbies are all pretty well spread out too, which again gives our supporters plenty to look forward to throughout the entire season. Overall, there’s not a lot there I would change.
“If I’d sat down and written an ideal fixture list myself, it probably wouldn’t have been too much different than it is. It’s a good schedule in many ways and as a fan, I’m very happy with it.”