AWAY days promise to be much easier on the pocket for Sheffield Wednesday’s travelling fans next year.
Owls supporters can look forward to spending less time on the motorway in the 2011/12 season, with far fewer miles to cover in League One as Gary Megson’s side bid to mount a serious promotion push.
The long trips have been significantly reduced in the wake of Brighton and Southampton’s promotion to the Championship while Plymouth, Dagenham and Redbridge and Swindon are no longer in the third tier following relegation to League Two.
Instead, Wednesday’s long suffering fans will be looking out for local derby clashes with Sheffield United and Chesterfield when the fixture list is unveiled a week on Friday. Other new northern tests to contend with include Preston North End, Scunthorpe United and Bury.
Of the new teams who have gained promotion, the Owls will lock horns with Stevenage for the first time in their history in the league. The League Two play-off winners averaged just 2,898 spectators at Broadhall Way last term but are eyeing up a third successive promotion. Wycombe Wanderers are the other new boys after finishing third behind Chesterfield and Bury.
Whereas the club’s 23 league matches last year involved a total round trip of 7,010 miles, it will be 5,248 miles for Megson’s men when the new season gets under way in two months time.
The shortest trek will be to Bramall Lane and the furthest will be Exeter City.
Wednesday boss Megson, who has strengthened his squad by capturing Rob Jones and David Prutton from Scunthorpe and Swindon respectively over the summer, is acutely aware the club will have to improve their form away from Hillsborough to challenge in the upper echelons of the table. On the road, Megson has overseen just two victories from 11 matches since being appointed Alan Irvine’s successor four months ago. He plans on buying a minimum of seven new players to bolster Wednesday’s promotion aspirations.
Rangers manager Ally McCoist has refused to give up hope of persuading former Owls defender Madjid Bougherra to remain at Ibrox.
The Algeria defender - who has a year left on his contract - has expressed a desire to quit the Scottish champions and play in the Barclays Premier League. But McCoist is keen to retain the services of Bougherra and is also hopeful that Allan McGregor, Steven Davis and Steven Whittaker will commit to new deals.
“He [Madjid] is a player I definitely want to keep at the club,” said McCoist.
Leyton Orient 175
MK Dons 123
Notts County 47
Oldham Athletic 38
Sheffield United 4
(To nearest mile)