Liverpool will rue cost of Champions League omission
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish will pay the price for failure to secure a top four finish
Another year outside the Champions League will be a damaging blow to Liverpool. But, the situation that Kenny Dalglish's side find themselves in - lying in a lowly seventh place in the Premier League - 12 points adrift of fourth placed Tottenham, and the notion of a third consecutive season without participation in Europe's elite competition, is fast becoming a reality.
For a football club with such illustrious history, their recent demise on the European stage is understandably a bitter pill to swallow. Add to that the fact that the current Anfield owners have spent nearly £115million in rejuvenating the Reds' first-team squad, and John W. Henry, Tom Werner, and everyone else at Fenway Sports Group, could be forgiven for feeling a little angst.
Even more alarming, is the fact that Liverpool - former heavyweights of the English game - who were recently toppled as the country's most successful club, after Manchester United claimed a record-breaking 19th domestic title last season, sit a whopping 28 points behind the present leaders, who are now closing in on title number 20.
Last month's League Cup success at Wembley has gone some way to saving Liverpool's season, restoring an amount of pride upon Merseyside, and with a potential FA Cup semi-final clash against local rivals Everton to look forward to, the possibility of another piece of silverware will ensure 2011-12 goes down as one of the more memorable campaigns in recent years.
But, whether you like it or not, there is no getting away from the fact that failure to qualify for the Champions League will bring with it a significant blow, both financially and in terms of the club's dwindling reputation as a leading football powerhouse.
Liverpool already rely too heavily on its enduring fame and esteem to attract the sort of players that have the ability to take the club forward, and this summer will undoubtedly prove even more difficult to entice new signings away from clubs already participating in the Champions League.
Those who say the answer is to throw even more money at the project would be foolish to think that FSG have plans to run Liverpool anything like the same way Sheikh Mansour at Manchester City, and Roman Abramovich at Chelsea before him have, particularly with the implementation of FIFAs Financial Fair Play regulations just around the corner.
Dalglish will have funds to strengthen his squad, but not as much as he would have, had he secured a top four finish in the Premier League. Liverpool could lose up to £20million in prize money from Uefa if, as expected, they fail to qualify for the Champions League.
The club will also miss out on the opportunity for more attractive sponsorship deals, which in today's commercial world of modern football, take on increasing importance - especially as the club continues to pursue naming rights for their elusive new stadium proposal.
There is no denying that Liverpool's players have seriously under-performed this season. Six defeats in their last 10 Premier League games, with only two wins in 2012, is simply not good enough. Poor home form, which has produced no less than eight draws at Anfield, will also be a cause for concern.
The biggest question that remains is where will the club be 12 months from now? The Europa League might just about do for Liverpool next season, but a top four finish has to follow.