Benitez: Venue switch unfair on fans

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Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has blasted the late switch in venue for his side's Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid, claiming it is unfair on the club's fans.

The Reds were due to face Atletico at their Vicente Calderon stadium next Wednesday, but the Spanish club have been ordered to play at least 300 kilometres away from the capital as a result of crowd trouble during the match with Marseille on October 1.

Benitez told the club's official website: "To change the venue of the game at such a late stage would cause massive problems to our fans, and that is not fair."

Atletico have until midday on Friday to appeal against their punishment, which also included a 150,000 euros fine after Marseille's players were racially abused during the Group D clash.

UEFA have expressed sympathy for the Liverpool supporters caught up in the turmoil, but communications director William Gaillard insisted there was "no alternative" to the stadium ban.

Benitez added: "We know about the loyalty of our fans and we know about the incredible lengths they go to to support us."

"They have an incredible passion for the club, which means they follow us all over Europe at great expense to themselves, and we always appreciate that.

"That is why we are so worried by this ruling. We can understand why UEFA feel they have to act - but in this case maybe this time it has come too late."

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres, meanwhile, has spoken of his disappointment after hearing his much-anticipated return to play a match at Atletico Madrid may be scuppered.

"After so much time waiting, it is the worst and most unexpected news that I could have heard. I'm eager to go back. I don't know if it is definitive; I hope that a solution can be found."

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