Platini offers Hillsborough olive branch to Liverpool

Michel Platini has promised Liverpool that Uefa will try to avoid forcing the club to play the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final on the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.

The anniversary of the tragedy, in which 96 fans died, falls on 15 April, which is one of the two dates set aside for the second legs of the quarter-finals, the other being the previous day. Platini, the president of European football's governing body, has not gone so far as to guarantee Liverpool that their game will be on the 14th, but pledged Uefa would "do our utmost" to avoid an unwelcome scenario.

Uefa yesterday issued a statement reacting to reports claiming it had rejected an appeal by Liverpool to avoid playing on the anniversary date. Platini said: "We are aware of the huge significance of the 15 April date for both Liverpool FC and their fans, and that is why we will do our utmost to make sure that the club does not have to play its Uefa Champions League second leg quarter-final match on that day. I have been in regular correspondence with Liverpool for some time and fully sympathise with the club's feelings as to the importance of respecting the date of 15 April for those who lost their lives at Hillsborough."

Liverpool supporters were crushed to death at the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough on 15 April 1989 as they attended their team's FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.

A cousin of the Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was among the dead, and the England midfielder has urged Uefa to be sympathetic. Gerrard said at the weekend: "We're still waiting to see whether Uefa will make us play on the day. That would be far from ideal, given all the emotion that always surrounds the club on that day."

The Champions League quarter-final draw takes place on Friday.