Tuesday 7th June 2005


UEFA chief Lennart Johansson today confirmed Liverpool will not be kept waiting much longer to find out their Champions League destiny.

President Johansson was due to speak to UEFA's executive committee today about whether the European champions will have the chance to defend their title next season. 17.

Johansson, who confirmed he is in favour of Rafael Benitez's team taking part in next season's Champions League, wants a decision this week, ahead of the proposed D-day of June

Johansson said: "The executive committee are to decide today on which date and what time they are going to have a telephone conference.

"They will look at which alternatives are available. One decision is about what will happen in the future but the main decision is what will happen to Liverpool.

"I trust it will be a decision which will be accepted by all parties.

"We have the ambition on the one hand to give Liverpool the opportunity to defend their title - but on the other hand we need to make sure no-one suffers from such a decision."

Everton, who beat the Reds to the fourth qualification spot, say they'll object to a solution which would mean they have to take a smaller share of the prize money.

Usually, four English clubs share a minimum of around £52m for reaching the group stage. If Liverpool get in, this will be shared between five.

That means Liverpool and Everton would receive a minimum of £10.4m rather than £13m. These costs would increase if all five English clubs reached the last 16.

Officials in Turkey have also expressed dissatisfaction that Liverpool may be entered into the group stages with a high seeding therefore demoting their champions, Fenerbahce, to the qualifying round.

Reds chief executive Rick Parry believes his side should go straight into the group stage as top seeds in the same manner as all previous winners.

That prospect appears to be diminishing, although it's unlikely Liverpool will complain if they're handed a place in the third qualifying round.

Johansson continued: "In my opinion Liverpool should be in from the very beginning - they will have to go through all the competition.

"But I think the champions should have the chance to defend their title."

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News report filed by The Editor