Liverpool in limbo as FA lobbies for fifth Champions' League place

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The Independent Online

The chairman of Liverpool, David Moores, said last night it would be "absolutely diabolical" if his club were not allowed by Uefa to compete in next season's Champions' League after their sensational comeback to win the club's fifth European Cup against Milan in Istanbul on Wednesday night.

The chairman of Liverpool, David Moores, said last night it would be "absolutely diabolical" if his club were not allowed by Uefa to compete in next season's Champions' League after their sensational comeback to win the club's fifth European Cup against Milan in Istanbul on Wednesday night.

The club's officials have still not been contacted by Uefa over whether their case could be discussed at next month's meeting of the governing body's executive committee although there was growing confidence at Anfield yesterday that their inclusion will be difficult to resist. "They can't leave us out now," said the club's chief executive, Rick Parry.

After a heroic comeback from three goals down at half-time to draw 3-3 and win the match 3-2 on penalties, Uefa will find themselves under further pressure if the most dramatic winners of the European Cup are not allowed to defend their title. The Liverpool manager, Rafael Benitez, said that it would be "unbelievable" if his side were not able to play in the competition next year despite the Football Association ruling that the top four Premiership sides should qualify.

"It is unbelievable that we play in the Inter-Continental Cup, the European Super Cup and not the Champions'League," he said. "If you win the Champions' League it is because you are the best team now and we have worked really hard. Those in charge need to use common sense."

Moores is thought to have influential support from within Uefa. Yesterday Liverpool had the backing of the FA, the sports minister Richard Caborn, and, it is understood, the private support of Uefa's president, Lennart Johansson, and Franz Beckenbauer, a presidential candidate.

However, it is Uefa's 15-man executive committee, who convene in Manchester on 17 June who hold the key to any decision. They have been lobbied hard by the FA whose chief executive Brian Barwick once again added his voice to those calling for Liverpool's inclusion.

He said: "What Uefa have is a situation where they are faced with not having their own champions in their own competition which is called the Champions' League. I think in its own way that tells its own story. I think the FA were right and proper to put the top four in to the Champions' League. That's how teams kicked off in August, expecting a top four finish to give them qualification and that will not be changed. It's an exceptional situation which we believe requires an exceptional solution."

David Davies, the executive director of the FA, said: "Over the next three weeks senior figures in European football ­ who are not English ­ will speak out on Liverpool's behalf."

As well as the estimated £30m Liverpool have earned from their winning run, they have trip to Japan on 11 December to contest the Inter-Continental Cup against the champions of South America. They will play CSKA Moscow in the European Super Cup and by then they will hope to have Steven Gerrard signed on a new deal after Benitez admitted for the first time yesterday that the uncertainty over his captain's future this season had affected his form for the club.

"He is one of our best players and during the season people were constantly talking about him and Chelsea or Real Madrid. That makes it difficult when you are trying to represent your club with the right mentality," Benitez said.

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