• Europa League

Rodgers would snub Fair Play place

ESPN staff
May 2, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Brendan Rodgers believes Liverpool's pre-season tour is more important than the Europa League © PA Photos
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Brendan Rodgers insists Liverpool will be prepared to snub next season's Europa League competition if they qualify through the Fair Play league.

The Reds sit second behind Arsenal in the Premier League's fair play standings, with Tottenham and Manchester United, who are set to automatically qualify for Europe, occupying the third and fourth spots.

UEFA grants a place in the Europa League qualification stages to the three highest place fair play leagues in Europe and, although England is fourth in that list, Liverpool could nab one of those places with three games still remaining in the season.

But the Reds' pre-season tour of Asia and Australia in July would clash with preliminary qualification matches and Rodgers is adamant his side would have no qualms in rejecting the Europa League.

"I've never thought of it," he said. "Maybe we should get a couple of sendings off or bookings. There's a pride thing and we want to get into it with our performance level and it's highly unlikely we'd get that route [anyway].

"It's the top three countries and we're fourth. It's not something I would be keen on. I want to get there through the right means. If we have to have a year where we are not in it, it's going to give us an opportunity to push on."

Liverpool were forced to qualify for this season's Europa League with play-off ties against Belarusian side FC Gomel and Scotland's Hearts after finishing eighth in the Premier League last campaign.

Rodgers believes the extra pre-season fixtures, despite the possibility of being present in Europe, would be a burden for Liverpool.

"It was a long journey in the Europa League this year," he said. "Don't get me wrong, we enjoyed it and we were disappointed when we came out of it, but I think down the Fair Play route means the competition starts even earlier.

"I'd prefer to be in it by qualifying through the league or winning a trophy. If it's not that way then, we as a club are better suited to re-aligning our focus to domestic cups and the league."

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