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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
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UEFA seeks positive Europa reaction

UEFA are urging Europa League clubs to be more positive about their participation in the competition in a bid to lift its profile.

The Europa League is often regarded as an inferior substitute for the Champions League and is well down the pecking order of priorities for many English and Italian clubs, with much-changed sides a regular occurrence.

This view is strengthened by the winners of the Champions League taking home a cheque for €9 million (£7.24 million) while the Europa League winners earn a third of that and the difference in TV revenue is also vast.

The discovery of a prompt sheet at Tottenham's Europa League pre-match press conference for the game against Panathinaikos has revealed that UEFA are leaning on clubs' communication departments to help them give the ailing competition's status a boost.

The sheet asks press officers to brief their players and coaches that the Europa League is "prestigious" and "rich in heritage". Headlined "Discover the Drama", it reads: "At the start of the press conference, below messages should be used by the Club Press Officers.

"In addition, they may also be used by Club Press Officers when briefing coaches and players as theirs would be of great support to us.

• UEFA Europa League is prestigious - it provides clubs, players and fans with the challenge of competing in European football for an elite trophy.

• UEFA Europa League is rich in heritage having provided some of European football's most memorable moments and characters in recent years.

• The most important quality that we want to communicate is that the UEFA Europa League is dramatic."

Sir Alex Ferguson caused a storm last season when, after Manchester United had dropped from the Champions League to the Europa League, he said: "Now we are in a competition I have never been in with Manchester United. It does mean Sundays right through and Thursday-Sunday matches. That has to be dealt with. That is our penalty for not qualifying."

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