The European Champion Clubs' Cup trophyThe European Champion Clubs' Cup trophy (©Getty Images)

Liverpool allowed to defend title

Friday, 10 June 2005

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The UEFA Champions League holders Liverpool FC will compete in next season's Champions League first qualifying round.

Right to defend
The UEFA Executive Committee decided to amend the regulations for the future editions of the Champions League, so that the holders will have the right to defend their title and therefore qualify automatically. At the same time, the number of clubs allowed per national association will remain stable based on coefficient ranking.

Exceptional decision
"Exceptionally, for the upcoming season, the UEFA Executive Committee today decided to allow the current Champions League title-holders to defend their title," said UEFA in a statement. Liverpool finished fifth in the top English flight last season.

First qualifying round
The Executive Committee also decided that Liverpool would enter the competition in the first qualifying round, to be played on 12/13 and 19/20 July, The draw for the first qualifying round is scheduled to take place on 24 June.

No country protection
There will be no "country protection" for Liverpool, which means that they could be drawn to play another English club at any stage of the competition. English domestic champions Chelsea FC and Arsenal FC have qualified for the Champions League group stage, while Manchester United FC and Liverpool's neighbours Everton FC join the competition in the third qualifying round.

Market pool share
In addition, Liverpool will be included in the English market pool share with the status of lowest-placed English club.

Istanbul glory
Liverpool won the 2004/05 Champions League – the fifth time that the English side has taken European club football's most prestigious trophy – by beating AC Milan in a memorable final in Istanbul last month. They were 3-0 down at half-time, but scored three times in the second half to force a draw and eventually win a penalty shoot-out 3-2.

Unanimous decision – Olsson
"It was a unanimous decision – I think it was a very good decision," UEFA Chief Executive Lars-Christer Olsson told uefa.com after the deliberations, "because there was a need for the amendment.

Regulations amendment
"The Executive Committee took a decision to amend the regulations slightly for the Champions League, which means that in the future, the champions will always be able to defend their title, independently of how many slots each of the associations have," he added. "As a consequence, the Executive Committee decided to give Liverpool the opportunity to defend their title in the coming season.

Champions' entitlement
"It means that in future, if [an association] has four free slots for example, one of these should be allocated to the [Champions League] champions if they have not qualified through the ordinary system in their domestic league," Mr Olsson continued.

For the revised access list, please click here.

NOTE: The information included in this list is provisional and will be confirmed by UEFA in mid-June following the receipt of the official entry documents from each of the national associations.

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