The Coca-Cola Championship with newly relegated Middlesbrough taking on a team that so nearly replaced them in the Premier League - Sheffield United.

For Gareth Southgate it's his first season managing outside the Premier League and only his second experience of the Football League, spending just one season in the Championship back in 1993/94 following Crystal Palace's relegation from the top flight. He could be a good omen for Boro as the former defender was part of the squad which won the league by seven points.

Middlesbrough spent the last 11 years in the top flight and the boss knows a different approach will be needed now they are essentially the big fish:

"We will be a big scalp in the Championship and teams will try to raise their game against us.

"We have to be ready for that - and we plan to be."

"It will be tough because there are good sides in this division including some, like ourselves, that have been in the Premier League in recent past."

For Sheffield United this will be their third season since they were relegated from the top flight and their first without parachute payments. They came so close to promotion last season, losing out in the Coca-Cola Play-Off Final to Burnley, so expectations for both of these clubs will be high but we won't know until May who, if either can live up to them.


The other two sides who came down with Middlesbrough - West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United go head to head in a fixture which only took place in the Premier League five months ago.
Back then Newcastle ran out 3-2 winners at the Hawthorns but both sides will have a new look to them this season.

There will also be two new men in the dugouts since then with Roberto Di Matteo the new Albion boss, replacing Tony Mowbray who took over at Celtic and he has only one target:

"I have not come to win the beauty prize - I want to win the Championship.

"I like to play football as much as possible. That will not always be possible in the Championship because there are places and opponents that make it difficult for you.
"You need to be physical sometimes and have some steel in the side."

Newcastle have had a difficult summer and are still without a Manager as a possible takeover is yet to be completed, so Chris Hughton will continue to lead the side, for the short-term at least.

The Magpies were promoted from the Football League in 1993 and finished as runners-up in the top flight in both 1996 and 1997 but turmoil off the pitch has so often spread on it, with 10 full time managers since that promotion, including three full time plus one caretaker last season!


Peterborough United make their return to the Championship with a trip to Derby County, in only the fifth league meeting between the two sides, the last of which came 15 years ago.

Both Managers - Darren Ferguson and Nigel Clough - are carving out successful careers of their own, despite living in the shadows of their famous fathers but who will shade this one?

Fellow new boys Leicester City's take on Swansea City at home while Scunthorpe United face a trip to Cardiff.


Another fixture which catches the eye sees Ian Holloway return to Queens Park Rangers as Manager of Blackpool.

The former R's boss spent five years in charge at Loftus Road but took charge of the Tangerines in May and he'll go head to head with Rangers' new boss Jim Magilton who joined the club in June.


It's 74 days since the last televised game in the Football League but you can certainly make up for it over the next few days with no less than six games in the next five days! You can read our full in depth look at the televised games by clicking here

Kicking off tonight it's the match from the Riverside before Southampton's Coca-Cola League 1 clash with Millwall gets underway at lunchtime on Saturday. West Brom's home tie with Newcastle signals the return of the Football League to the BBC at 5.30pm on Saturday. Ipswich Town's trip to Coventry City's is Sunday's offering before the Carling Cup first round matches between Darlington and Leeds on Monday and Bury and West Brom on Tuesday - Please click here for the full list of televised games.

For all this weekend's Football League fixtures click here