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By ESPN Staff

Champions League seedings snub for Chelsea

Chelsea will remain among the second seeds for the Champions League next season despite the almost-certain exclusion of Juventus and AC Milan from the competition.

Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool will be among the eight top seeds for the draw but even with the top Italian sides missing Chelsea remain among the second seeds.

French champions Lyon will benefit, however, as they will now become one of the top seeds.

Despite being Premiership champions for two years running, Chelsea's English rivals who have notched up more UEFA co-efficient points by having a longer history in Europe's elite club competition.

It will mean Jose Mourinho's side have a one-in-five chance of being in the same group as current European champions Barcelona, who beat them in the first knockout phase of the competition last season.

Mourinho has said in the past that he believes the seeding system should give more weight to clubs' domestic form, and made his feelings known to UEFA when asked for his views on how the Champions League could be improved.

Beaten finalists Arsenal and Liverpool still need to qualify to take their place among the top seeds for the group phase while Celtic, who qualified automatically as Scottish champions, will be in the pot of second seeds.

Should they qualify, Hearts would almost certainly be one of the lowest seeds.

Even if Juventus and AC Milan win their appeals against their punishments for Italy's match-fixing scandal, their inclusion would not alter the seedings of any British sides in the draw.

UEFA have given the Italian FA until July 25 to confirm which sides will be taking part in European competition next season.

With Juventus demoted to Serie B last week and AC Milan given a massive points reduction, Roma and Chievo are set to join Inter Milan in the Champions League.

UEFA's procedure sees the 32 sides in the Champions League split into four pots of eight teams, divided according to their current European ranking.

Each group will contain one team from the top seeds, one from the second seeds, one for the third and one from the fourth.

Top pot of seeds for Champions League according to current UEFA co-efficient:

1 Barcelona (Spa) 127.0pts, 2 Real Madrid (Spa) 120.0, 3 Inter Milan (Ita) 112.0+, 4 Liverpool (Eng) 105.9*, 5 Arsenal (Eng) 101.9*, 6 Man Utd (Eng) 100.9, 7 Valencia (Spa) 95.0*, 8 Lyon (Fra) 89.7.

Second seeds:

9 Porto (Por) 87.5, 10 PSV Eindhoven (Hol) 81.6, 11 Bayern Munich (Ger) 80.9, 12 Chelsea (Eng) 79.9, 13 Roma (Ita) 76.0+, 14 Ajax (Hol) 60.6*, 15 Celtic (Sco) 60.0, 16 Lille (Fra) 54.7.

Others: 40 Hearts (Sco) 20.0; 64 Cork City (Irl) 1.4, 68 Linfield (NIr) 0.77, 69 The New Saints FC (Wal) 0.77.

(* denotes needs to qualify, + denotes may change if Juventus and AC Milan win appeals in Italy against match-fixing punishment).