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Liverpool get Champions lifeline

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May 10, 2005 21:59 IST

UEFA president Lennart Johansson added incentive to Liverpool's quest in the final of the Champions League, against AC Milan in Istanbul on May 25, saying the England club could retain their place if they win the title.

England's Football Association (FA) had stated last week that only the top four in the English Premier League would be allowed entry in next year's Champions League. Liverpool lost out on their place to Everton after they were beaten 3-1 by Arsenal on Saturday.

The Swede said he supported the principle of a change in rules to allow a club that wins the League to defend their title even if they fail to claim one of the qualification places in their leagues.

However, Liverpool and the Football Association will face a race against time to get the rules changed before next month's entry deadline.

Johansson asked the FA on Monday to submit an appeal in writing to the European football's governing body, a move that could lead to all champions being allowed to defend the title.

"Let's deal with it when we know the facts after the final of the Champions League. And then see to it that we are crystal-clear that the champion must always be given the opportunity to defend the title," Johansson told Sky Sports news

Johansson added: "We should see to it in the future that we have rules and regulations that are understandable from the very beginning.

"I, on one hand, think that someone [who] has qualified under the present regulations for the next Champions League [should be entered in the competition] and, on the other hand, I understand the champions like to defend its title.

"If they [the Football] Association would like to, if they are making contact with us, they should make a proposal that would mean extending the number of teams from England in the Champions' League next time from four to five."

The decision rests with the executive committee of UEFA, which is led by the chief executive, Lars-Christer Olsson. It would be responsible for overseeing any change in the rules.

FA communications director Adrian Bevington said they had already submitted a written report asking the UEFA to have an extra berth for Liverpool in the Champions League should they win the title.