Confusion all round this evening as Liverpool’s official website contradicted many other websites over the date of Liverpool’s first competitive match of the season. The match in question is the first leg of the Champions League first qualifying round against Welsh champions TNS. The match was due to be played on Tuesday or Wednesday the 12th or 13th of July. The Liverpool website says the Wednesday, whereas other sites are reporting the Tuesday. Either way the game will be a 7:45pm kick-off.
Then there’s more confusion over the rules for the where the return leg can be played. The regulations published by UEFA state that the home team’s games should be played in their own country if possible, but that UEFA are able to sanction games to be played outside of the home team’s country. An unnamed UEFA spokesman has said something different though. This spokesman said: "The match has to be played in the territory where the club comes from. The match has to be played in the territory where the club comes from. Moving this match to Everton is simply not possible."
It was also announced that TNS must make their decision known tomorrow.
The Millennium Stadium was previously listed as another alternative, but the manager of the stadium says it just doesn’t look possible to stage it there, thanks to a large-scale Jehova’s Witness meeting and a rock concert. Paul Sergeant said: "We have the REM concert on 10 July and then the International Watchtower Convention on 15, 16 and 17 July. That doesn’t leave much time to bring in a pitch for either the 19th or 20th."
The date for this second leg, which does seem most likely to be played at Wrexham’s Racecourse ground now, has yet to be finalised, as TNS try to negotiate a TV deal. Qualifying rounds of the European Cup are not governed by the agreement for the main competition, which means the home club get to negotiate independently for coverage.
Liverpool’s players returned for pre-season training today, although they’ve not had much time to put weight on or to let their fitness slide. Just 33 days ago they were playing in the final of the Champions League, and some players have had international commitments since then.
Still no official word on Jose Reina joining or Chris Kirkland moving out on loan, but one new face has been announced for the Reds – but not a new player. Liverpool’s problems with injuries last season were the worst in a long time and the new member of staff is a fitness coach. Enrique Sanz will be assistant to Paco Ayesteran, himself Liverpool’s assistant manager, and speaking to Marca he revealed that he’d been grilled by Benitez just before being asked to move to Anfield from his current club Hercules: "I was speaking with Benitez and he bombarded me with questions. The following day they proposed the move to me. I would be the right hand man for Ayestaran in the first team, and to prepare the reserve team."