Liverpool facing 'enormously difficult' Champions League challenge

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Liverpool could find it "enormously difficult" to get back into the Champions League because of UEFA's new financial rules, Stoke chairman Peter Coates has claimed.

UEFA's rules will force clubs to only spend what they earn and Coates believes that will increase the financial power of clubs already in the Champions League. Liverpool finished in seventh position last season and missing out on Europe's elite club competition will see their income cut by at least £30million.

Coates told BBC Radio Five: "It has been great this year with Spurs doing so well but Liverpool could find it enormously difficult with these new rules to get back into the Champions League, which causes the biggest distortion in football."

He added: "I have a reservation about these new rules, in that it will affect clubs who want to get into Europe because it is going to reinforce what I call a quadopoly.

"What [UEFA president] Michel Platini is recommending on the whole seems sensible and good but it means up to £50million for playing in the Champions League and it will reinforce those top clubs and make it very difficult for anyone to break into that."

The new UEFA rules will also limit the amount of cash 'sugar daddies' will be able to pour into the clubs to fund transfers and high wages, though they will be allowed to finance capital projects such as stadiums and academies.

Attempts to bypass the rules by owners handing out huge sponsorship contracts to their clubs from other companies they own will also be checked by an independent watchdog panel appointed by UEFA to ensure they are not paying above the market rate.

The FA and Premier League - who will be the bodies that jointly provide the UEFA licences to English clubs - have given the new rules a cautious welcome but want assurances that smaller clubs still have "the opportunity to invest the resources required to compete at a higher level".

Liverpool are understood to be comfortable about the prospect of complying with UEFA's new rules and having the financial clout to get back in to the Champions League - especially as their commercial revenue has grown hugely over the last three years.

According to figure published by analysts Deloitte, last year Liverpool earned £67.7million from commercial activities, secondly only to Manchester United (£70million) and comfortably ahead of Chelsea (£52.8m) and Arsenal (£48.1million).

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