The Newcastle Jets hope their season-opening derby against Central Coast will be attended by the first crowd at McDonald Jones Stadium in almost five months.
The schedule for the opening rounds of the 2021-22 A-League and W-League campaigns was released yesterday, after both were delayed by coronavirus restrictions.
The Jets will play six A-League games and four W-League games before Christmas, against teams based in NSW.
Newcastle will kick off their A-League season with a home clash against traditional rivals the Mariners on Sunday, November 21 (4.05pm).
McDonald Jones Stadium has been in lockdown since the Knights thrashed North Queensland 38-0 on July 3, before all NRL teams entered a Queensland hub. With nine weeks leeway, Jets officials hope time is on their side.
"We're confident this will be a great event for the Newcastle community," Jets executive chairman Shane Mattiske said.
"We're expecting that by late November, the restrictions will have eased and we'll be able to have a crowd at that match.
"We've got a new coach, a lot of new players and I'm sure our fans are looking forward to their team coming out in the heritage gold jersey, which we will wear moving forward.
"We're playing our great rivals, the Mariners, and it's on a Sunday afternoon, so hopefully the weather is warm and people are excited about getting to the game."
It is unclear what will happen after the first bloc of games, but Mattiske felt "all the data" indicated border restrictions will eventually ease, allowing teams to travel interstate for games.
He was hopeful the Jets would be cleared to play their first pre-season trial early next month.
As well as the derby showdown, other highlights of Newcastle's initial schedule include an A-League-W-League double-header against Wellington on December 10, and an A-League home game against Western Sydney on Christmas Eve.