Bluebirds opener for Blues
IPSWICH will start the new season on August 6 with a visit from Cardiff - whose last win at Portman Road came almost 59 years ago.For the third year in a row, Town start in front of their own fans as boss Joe Royle seeks to mount yet another promotion challenge.
By Mel Henderson
IPSWICH will start the new season on August 6 with a visit from Cardiff - whose last win at Portman Road came almost 59 years ago.
For the third year in a row, Town start in front of their own fans as boss Joe Royle seeks to mount yet another promotion challenge.
This will be the third time Cardiff have provided Town's opposition on the opening day. This time the game will be new boss Dave Jones's first in charge of the Bluebirds.
Ipswich went to Ninian Park in 1964 and 1966, drawing 0-0 and winning 2-0. They have not lost any of their last 11 clashes with the Welsh club.
The second visitors to Portman Road, after Royle's men complete away fixtures at QPR and Leicester, will be newly promoted Sheffield Wednesday.
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Preston, who lost to West Ham in last month's play-off final, and relegated Southampton are next in line at home.
But the game that is sure to capture the fans' imagination more than any other is the East Anglian derby.
Town supporters will not have long to wait, with relegated Norwich City due at Portman Road on September 17.
But all fixtures are subject to change and Sky Sports' requirements, as well as what the local police have to say, will determine which games are rearranged.
It would not be a surprise, even if the matches against Norwich are not selected for television coverage, to see them switched to a Sunday.
September looks set to be a demanding month for Ipswich, with trips to Sheffield United, Leeds and Burnley alongside home games against the Canaries and Harry Redknapp's Saints.
New Town striker Nicky Forster will not have long to wait for his return to former club Reading on October 15.
There are no fixtures on September 3 or October 8, the dates having been set aside for England's key World Cup qualifiers against Wales and Austria respectively.
Town fans will be pleased that their favourites are going to be at home on Boxing Day, with Championship favourites Crystal Palace making the relatively short trip up the A12 for a game certain to attract a capacity crowd.
As always, it will be a hectic holiday programme with Town taking on Palace, newly-promoted pair Hull and Luton, then Stoke - all in the space of seven days.
The return derby clash is scheduled for Carrow Road on February 4.
If Ipswich are in the promotion frame entering the last lap of the season, their run-in looks to be relatively comfortable.
They will take on Luton, Stoke, Brighton, Watford and Derby before ending the season on April 30 with the long journey to Devon to take on Plymouth.
The authorities have decided on an early finish in 2006 to assist England coach Sven Goran Eriksson and his players as they attempt to bring the World Cup back from Germany.
Meanwhile, Town have run out of patience with Lazio and have alerted the FA over their inability to stage a friendly game with the Italians.
Two fixtures were agreed when goalkeeper Matteo Sereni left Portman Road two years to join the Rome club.
But Portman Road chief executive Derek Bowden has hit a brick wall in attempting to find suitable dates and now Town want to be compensated in cash.
Bowden said: “We have written to the FA to seek compensation from Lazio, a figure relative to what we would earn from a pre-season friendly.
“This is on the basis that we have tried to organise a match with them on three occasions and each time they have miraculously avoided playing it.
“It is a contractual agreement that they play two free friendlies as compensation for the Matteo Sereni transfer and they are avoiding it.
“We've done all we can do, so we now want the FA to instruct FIFA that we are unhappy with the situation and ask FIFA to talk to the Italian Football Federation and try to resolve it for us.”
Sereni cost Town £5million from Sampdoria in 2001. He returned to Italy two years later in a cut-price deal, with the two friendly fixtures intended to help make up the shortfall.