Liverpool close to securing Champions' League spot

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The Independent Online

Liverpool were told yesterday that they are close to securing a place in the Champions' League qualifying competition, but that would plunge the club into a fixture chaos that could impact upon the rest of their season.

Liverpool were told yesterday that they are close to securing a place in the Champions' League qualifying competition, but that would plunge the club into a fixture chaos that could impact upon the rest of their season.

The Uefa president Lennart Johansson said yesterday that he would arrange for a telephone conference among the governing body's executive committee to solve the problem of Liverpool's exclusion this week. However, there are still huge problems over the club's summer commitments as well as dissent over the division of England's television money from the competition which would be split between five rather than four clubs.

"We will look at which alternatives are available," Johansson said. "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 accepted by all parties. We have the ambition 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."

However, the commitments the club have already agreed to will make for a gruelling pre-season that could prove damaging for their entire campaign.

They already have to go to Japan on 11 December to contest the Inter-Continental Cup against the champions of South America. Liverpool will have to recall their squad earlier than their 27 June date for pre-season to prepare for a Champions' League first-round qualifying tie on 12 or 13 July. The second qualifying round first leg is on 26 or 27 July which clashes with their 27 July friendly against Shimizu S-Pulse in Japan. They play Kashima Antlers three days later.

The third qualifying round second leg, will take place on 23 or 24 August just days before the European Super Cup final against CSKA Moscow in Monaco on 26 August.

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