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Page last updated at 14:05 GMT, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 15:05 UK

Liverpool fans fume at Uefa move

By Sam Lyon

Liverpool fans
Supporters' plans for the match against Atletico have been thrown into disarray

Liverpool fans' plans for next week's Champions League match against Atletico Madrid are in "tatters" after Uefa switched the game to a neutral venue.

Uefa has imposed a two-match home ban on Atletico after trouble at their last Champions League game versus Marseille.

It means the Reds' match next Wednesday must be played 200 miles from Madrid.

"It is an utterly ridiculous decision so late in the day," chairman of the Liverpool Supporters' Club Richie Pedder told BBC Sport.

"We probably have three to four thousand fans going out to Madrid for the match. The flights will have been booked, the hotels will have been arranged, and now it's in tatters. What are they supposed to do now?

"I guess we're left with two options - change the destination of where the fans are flying in to, or to arrange coaches or some other form of transport from Madrid to wherever the new venue will be.

"But who does that? Uefa? The club? The fans themselves through the travel agents? It's a mess."

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez echoed the views of the fans.

"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," he said.

"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.

"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 president Enrique Cerezo says he remains confident the game will go ahead at the venue as planned.

"We will appeal. I have faith that Uefa will do the right thing," he told Spanish newspaper Marca.

"I hope they will listen to both sides evenly."

Uefa communications director William Gaillard admitted that Liverpool fans would suffer as a result of the decision but insisted it could not be avoided.

"We are concerned about the fans. We know they face hardship and disruption and we sympathise with that, but we needed to punish Atletico Madrid. We have no alternative.

"We are looking at the logistics and seeing what help we can provide."

The timing of the decision to switch the match, just eight days before the game, could be worsened by the fact Atletico have the right to appeal until 17 October, meaning a final decision may not be made until the weekend.

Should the ruling be upheld, supporters will be denied the chance to witness former Atletico striker Fernando Torres turning out at what used to be his home stadium.

"Don't forget this is Torres's return to Atletico and his former home ground," said Pedder, "and a lot of people will have booked to see the match on the strength of that. Now it's been taken away and that is another added disappointment.

"If Uefa were going to make this decision, they should have given some thought to the fans. Let's be honest, when it comes down to it, Uefa have erred."

Liverpool have written to Uefa to express their concerns over the switch, with chief executive Rick Parry admitting: "If the match is played at least 300km from Madrid, it will cause major disruption, inconvenience and large additional expense for our fans."

However, Pedder is keen for the club to address any potential travel and accommodation problems the fans may encounter, saying: "The hope is that the club will put out a statement looking at those issues.

"We don't want them waiting a day or two to decide what to do. All Liverpool fans will want to know what is going to happen should the game be switched as soon as possible and will want things put in motion."

see also
England veto Madrid for Spain tie
14 Oct 08 |  Internationals
Ferdinand condemns Fifa on racism
08 Oct 08 |  Internationals
Croatia fined over Heskey abuse
25 Sep 08 |  Internationals
Spain must pay heavy price
18 Nov 04 |  Internationals
Reaction from Spanish press
18 Nov 04 |  Internationals
Is Spanish football racist?
21 Dec 04 |  Football
Fifa probes Spanish racist chants
18 Nov 04 |  Internationals
Ferdinand almost quit Spain game
19 Nov 04 |  Internationals
Spanish fine disappoints Wenger
23 Dec 04 |  Arsenal
Taylor wanted England to walk off
18 Nov 04 |  Internationals
Spain fined for racist chanting
21 Dec 04 |  Internationals

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The Times Liverpool fans react angrily to Uefa move - 2 hrs ago Atletico Hit With Stadium Ban - 3 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Champions League: Atlético Madrid must play Liverpool at neutral venue after racism ban from Uefa - 4 hrs ago
Telegraph Liverpool to face Atletico at neutral venue - 5 hrs ago
Sporting Life ATLETICO HIT WITH STADIUM BAN - 6 hrs ago


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