G14 support Liverpool's case for European Cup place

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The Independent Football

Liverpool's apparently slim hopes of playing in next season's Champions' League took a turn for the better yesterday when G14, the grouping of Europe's richest and most powerful clubs, put pressure on Uefa, the European game's governing body, to allow Wednesday night's improbable winners to defend their title.

Liverpool's apparently slim hopes of playing in next season's Champions' League took a turn for the better yesterday when G14, the grouping of Europe's richest and most powerful clubs, put pressure on Uefa, the European game's governing body, to allow Wednesday night's improbable winners to defend their title.

G14 was the body that forced Uefa to expand the Champions' League in 1998 by threatening to set up a breakaway competition, and now they have thrown their weight behind Liverpool, one of their founder members.

"We support the desire to see Liverpool defend their trophy and the matter will be raised at our management board meeting next month, a G14 spokesman said. "We believe Uefa should look at ways of allowing this to happen."

The organisation is made up of 18 clubs including Real Madrid, Milan and Bayern Munich, as well as Manchester United and Arsenal, and a formal approach will be made to Uefa after the G14 meeting in Amsterdam on 9 June.

Meanwhile, the FA's chairman Geoff Thompson, who is also a Uefa vice-president, has continued lobbying for there to be five English clubs in the Champions' League so Liverpool can defend their crown.

His main argument is that nearly all the 52 Uefa member countries would be given an extra place in the Champions' League in similar circumstances apart from England, Spain and Italy because they are already allowed four teams in the competition. The FA believe that is an inconsistency in the regulations and that even if Uefa are not convinced on this occasion, they should change the rules for the future.

"We are working extremely hard to try to secure the extra place for Liverpool," Thompson said. "Our basic concern is to ensure that all 52 countries have the same opportunity. There is an additional place guaranteed should the champions come from 49 countries in Europe but not for the other three - England, Italy and Spain.

"We are saying that there should be a level playing field and that every country should have the same opportunity."

Liverpool will have to wait three weeks before they will know one way or another - the issue will be decided by Uefa's 15-man executive committee at their meeting in Manchester on 17 June.

Wembley officials yesterday insisted that the £757m stadium will be finished on time despite the construction firm Multiplex admitting for the first time that they could make a loss.

Multiplex agreed a fixed price to build Wembley but are in disarray after their founder, John Roberts, stepped down as chairman. They will face huge financial penalties if the stadium is not completed by next May but Multiplex have assured Wembley they are still on schedule.

Tottenham have joined the race to sign the Crystal Palace striker Andy Johnson, and were reported to have had a £7.5m bid for the 24-year-old England international and his club team-mate Wayne Routledge turned down yesterday.

Arsenal are ready to offer their centre-back Philippe Senderos a new contract to keep him at the club until 2010. The Swiss international replaced the injured Sol Campbell in defence in the final months of the season and kept his place when Campbell was fit again.

The former Arsenal defender Tony Adams has been offered work experience on the coaching staff at Feyenoord. Adams visited Rotterdam to see how the Dutch club operates.

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