Liverpool have been seeded by UEFA for the first qualifying round of the Champions League.
As a result the European Champions will face one of the following 12 teams in that first round:
FK Rabotnicki (Macedonia)
FC Dinamo Minsk (Belarus)
FC Pyunik (Armenia)
Sliema Wanderers (Malta)
KF Tirana (Albania)
FC Levadia Tallinn (Estonia)
Glentoran (Northern Ireland)
Total Network Solutions (Wales)
F91 Dudelange (Luxembourg)
PFC Neftchi (Azerbaijan)
HB Torshavn (Faroe Islands)
FC Kairat Almaty (Kazhakstan).
The draw is due to be made at UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon on Friday. The first leg games will be played on Tuesday or Wednesday, the 12th or 13th of July. The second leg takes place the following week.
If Liverpool get through to the second round they will also be seeded, meaning they would avoid teams such as Celtic, Anderlecht, Dinamo Kiev and Lokomotiv Moscow. Those games are scheduled for July 26th or 27th and August 2nd or 3rd.
The third qualifying round sees Manchester United and Everton enter the competition.
Liverpool are having to play so many qualifying games because of the decision by the English FA to allow Everton to enter the competition next year. UEFA have taken action to ensure that this can’t happen again – rather than trusting a national association in future they have enforced the rule that says the fourth placed team must move into the UEFA Cup. The FA chief executive, Brian Barwick, was pleased with the way they’d handled things. He also was unconcerned that the actions of the FA have seen the Champions of Europe have to start a season so early forcing the cancellation of pre-season games and disrupting pre-season preparations. He said: "The theory that Uefa would get to a situation where Liverpool wouldn’t be allowed back in it was, for us, untenable."
Barwick thanked UEFA for the decision they made: "I thought Uefa did a fantastic job. Liverpool start where they start. They just have more matches to go before they win it." If UEFA hadn’t made that decision the FA would have been under immense pressure – possibly even threatened with legal action.
If the FA had taken the action they were expected to do by UEFA – nominating Liverpool – then the Reds would have automatically got into the group stages as a top-seed. Barwick sees that as unimportant: "They are where they are. You could argue they should enter the competition in the first qualifying round, the third qualifier or the group, but the fact of the matter is they’re starting where they’re starting.”
Barwick became the FA’s Chief Executive late last year after the departure of Mark Palios. Palios left the FA after allegations were made that Faria Alam had been having affairs with him and also the England coach Sven Goran Eriksson. Ms Alam, 39, is taking the FA to an industrial tribunal today, claiming £30,000 in compensation for what she claims was unfairl dismissal. She’s also claiming the FA breached her contract and awarded her unequal pay. Ms Alam resigned last August after the two alleged affairs were reported in newspapers.