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By ESPN Staff

Bundesliga fixtures changed to aid clubs

The German Football League has accepted a request to move several Bundesliga fixtures in the next few weeks to avoid clubs facing two matches in the space of 48 hours.

With six German clubs in the first round of the UEFA Cup, the Bundesliga's usually strict schedule meant they were facing the prospect of a short turnaround between their European engagements on Thursday nights and the domestic games on Saturday.

But the Football League (DFL) have accepted requests by Schalke and Hertha Berlin to move their first-round first-leg UEFA Cup matches forward to Tuesday September 16 while an extra Sunday Bundesliga fixture has been introduced on two weekends.

'In view of the sporting competition and of fair play, it was urgently necessary to be able to schedule a third Sunday game,' explained DFL general manager Holger Hieronymus.

'Despite having so many German clubs involved in the UEFA Cup, we have been able to ensure that no club had two fixtures within the same 48 hours.'

The DFL were heavily criticised last season by Bayer Leverkusen, Hamburg, Nurnberg and Bayern Munich for lacking flexibility and hindering their chances of success in Europe.

Long-standing contractual obligations with television rights holders prevented the DFL from intervening, but after lengthy discussions with its broadcasting partners, the DFL has now found a solution which satisfies all parties.

As a result, Schalke's game against Hamburg on October 19 will be the only fixture that Sunday with seven fixtures taking place on the Saturday.

This is to compensate for the losses of one Saturday fixture on the 5th (September 20/21) and 7th (October 4/5) weekend of the season in favour of three on the respective Sundays.

This leaves just five games taking place on the Saturday, meaning a more restricted choice for free-TV broadcaster ARD for its Saturday evening highlights programme, hence the decision to add an extra Saturday fixture on October 18.

From the group stage of the UEFA Cup, it will be no longer possible for clubs to stage their European games on a Tuesday as they would clash with days reserved for Champions League games.

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