Lugano football club have been told they can keep their place in next season's UEFA Cup competition despite the team's financial difficulties.This content was published on June 18, 2002 - 10:36
European football's governing body, UEFA, has gone back on its decision to disqualify the Swiss side from the competition.
Lugano were relegated from Switzerland's top division earlier this month, along with Lausanne and FC Sion, because all three clubs lacked the funds required to secure a licence from the national league.
Lugano's estimated debts of around SFr18 million ($11.6 million) had then seemed set to cost them their place in Europe next season, with UEFA announcing last week that it would hand the UEFA Cup berth to FC Zurich instead.
But with just days to go until FC Zurich are due to begin competing in the less prestigious Intertoto Cup competition, UEFA have now decided to preserve the status quo.
Despite playing in Switzerland's second division, Lugano will be included in Friday's draw for the UEFA Cup qualifying round along with Servette Geneva. Grasshoppers Zurich are automatically through to the first round proper after finishing runners-up in the Swiss Cup final against league champions Basel.
Basel will be bidding for a place in Europe's biggest club competition, the Champions League, beginning their campaign in the tournament's second qualifying round. Like Lugano and Servette, Basel will find out the name of their first opponents on Friday following the draw at UEFA's headquarters in the Swiss town of Nyon.
FC Zurich could still reach the first round of the UEFA Cup, but will now have to do it the hard way. Along with St Gallen, the Zurich side will need to come through five Intertoto Cup ties if they are to make it into Europe's second biggest club tournament.
swissinfo with agencies
In compliance with the JTI standards