Liverpool WILL be able to defend their Champions League trophy next season after UEFA today granted them a place in the first qualifying round of the competition.
Following a telephone conference between the 14 members of UEFA's executive committee it was decided that Rafael Benitez's European champions should be invited to take part in next year's competition despite finishing outside the top four in the Premiership.
It means that England will now have five representatives in next season's competition after UEFA agreed the winners should have the right to defend the title they won so dramatically in Istanbul.
The first qualifying round will be played on 12/13 and 19/20 July, with the draw taking place on 24 June.
In a statement released on their official website, UEFA said: "Liverpool FC will compete in next season's UEFA Champions League first qualifying round.
"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.
"Exceptionally, for the upcoming season, the executive committee today decided to allow the current Champions League holders to defend their title.
The UEFA 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, with the draw taking place on 24 June.
There will be no country protection for Liverpool.
Liverpool will be included in the English market pool share with the status of lowest-placed English club.
NOTE From UEFA: 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."
Uefa chief executive Lars-Christer Olsson told BBC Radio Five Live the decision by the 14-man executive committee was unanimous.
"Unanimous means that everybody is supporting it. By definition,that is also the case here. There were no discussions actually on where they should enter the competition because everybody was of the opinion they should be given the opportunity but they have to start from the beginning. They could not be allowed to get into the 32 for example."
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