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Mark Lawrenson: Benitez can have few complaints over Uefa verdict.

Byline: Mark Lawrenson

UEFA'S decision to give Liverpool the chance to defend their Champions League success is a win-win situation.

In many ways there was no decision to make.

The holders, whoever they may be, should always have the chance to defend their crown.

Some supporters may be uspet that Uefa have only granted Liverpool a place in the first qualifying round and I can understand that, but they have altered the rules to allow Rafael Benitez's winners into the competition.

And that is a big plus for the club.

The job of attracting players has just been made all that much easier by the fact they are in the Champions League.

Liverpool will also have the chance to negotiate their own TV rights for three qualifying rounds and the prospect of playing in front of big crowds at Anfield, too.

That revenue could make all the difference in the transfer market and may even give Rafael Benitez the chance to bring in an extra player.

I am sure the manager is looking to increase both the numbers in the squad and the overall quality of players and if he achieves that Liverpool should not have any worries about any additional games they may have to play next season.

It may be that they have to look at the Carling Cup next season and put that much lower down the priorities to give the first-choice players a break.

Liverpool's players were due back on June 27 in any case and that still leaves a couple of weeks to prepare for the first qualifying tie.

These days, because of the changes in diet and the way players look after themselves in the close season, they return to training in far better condition anyway.

But I don't think the players will be too disappointed at not having to fly halfway round the world to Japan to play a couple of friendlies.

Fears that this eary start could also put Liverpool at a disadvantage in the Premiership can also be discounted.

Competing for trophies on a number of different fronts is something the top clubs have to cope with and the teams you would expect to be around Liverpool again next season - Manchester United, Arsenal, Everton and Chelsea - will all be in the same position

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Liverpool turns out to welcome back the conquering heroes
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 11, 2005
Words:393
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