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    The Champions League: Explained

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    Season ticket early bird offer

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    TV: Lasley signs extended contract

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    Ojamaa up for Estonia debut

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    Club Statement: Rangers FC

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    McCall confirms Clancy exit

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    Steelmen launch new third kit

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    TV: Humphrey sets off for Jamaica

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    Accies friendly confirmed

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    TV: Hammell pens two-year extension

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    The Champions League: Explained

    With the 2011/12 season finished almost everywhere in Europe, we now know all but two of the teams who will participate in next season’s Champions League, and  it is possible to work out the seeding for each round.

    Format

    The format of the Champions League has changed a few times over the years, particularly in the qualifying stages.  Since 2009/10, the qualifying rounds have been split into two distinct sections – one for Champions and one for non-Champions.

    This idea was proposed by Michel Platini, who wanted more champions of smaller countries in the group stage.  To some extent it has worked, with APOEL Nicosia making it to the quarter-finals of last season’s tournament.

    22 teams are granted direct entry into the group stage.  These places are given to the champions of the 12 highest ranked countries , the runners-up of the 6 highest ranked countries and the 3rd placed team in the 3 highest ranked countries.

    The holders get a place in the groups if they haven’t already qualified, which is the case with Chelsea this year.  Had Bayern Munich won the Champions League, the holder spot would have been vacated and the champions of the 13th ranked nation (R.S.C. Anderlecht) would have entered at the group stage.

    The “Champions Pathway” features the national champions from the UEFA members outside the top 12, with the exception of Liechtenstein, who don’t have a league.   There are four qualifying rounds, with the lower ranked countries entering earliest.

    The “Non-Champions Pathway” features the lowest placed qualifiers from each of the 15 highest ranked UEFA leagues.  This season, it will feature just 14 teams as a result of Chelsea’s success.   UEFA rules state that no country is allowed to have more than four entrants in the Champions League, so fourth placed Spurs dropped into the Europa League.  This section has just two qualifying rounds, with the lowest ranked countries entering earliest.

    Scotland are ranked 15th in the UEFA league coefficients, so we only just scraped a second Champions League spot.  With the poor performances in recent seasons, it is unlikely that we will have a second CL spot again for at least a few years.

    Champions League Flowchart

    Seeding

    First of all, a note about seeding.  The seeding in both the Champions League and Europa League is based on the UEFA club coefficients, which are based on results in European competition over the past five years.  Clubs which have not participated in Europe over that period are given a score based on their nation’s coefficient.

    All the seeding information is taken from Bert Kassies’ website, which is a treasure trove of statistics and ranking information.

    Non-Champions Pathway

    Motherwell will take part in this section of qualifying, and will enter at the 3rd Qualifying Round.  Their potential opponents for their first tie are already known, but I’ll also look at who they could play if they make it through to the next round.

    3rd Qualifying Round
    Draw:
    20th July
    Matches: 31st July/1st August and 7th/8th August

    Eight teams, including Motherwell, enter at this stage.

    Despite being the first round in the non-Champions section, this round is referred to as the 3rd Qualifying Round because it runs parallel to the 3rd Qualifying Round in the Champions section.

    The 8 teams participating in this round are all known, and Motherwell are unseeded.  We only have four potential opponents – FC Dynamo Kyiv, Panathinaikos, F.C. København or Fenerbahçe S.K.

    SEEDEDUNSEEDED
    FC Dynamo KyivClub Brugge K.V.
    PanathinaikosFC Vaslui
    F.C. KøbenhavnFeyenoord
    Fenerbahçe S.KMotherwell F.C.

    The teams who lose at this stage will enter the Europa League Play-off Round.

    Play-off Round
    Draw:
    10th August
    Matches: 21st/22nd August and 28th/29th August

    Six teams enter at this stage and are joined by the four winners from the previous round.

    This round is drawn after the previous round is completed, so the seedings will only be known at that stage.  The table below is merely speculative, and assumes that every single seeded side wins in the previous round.

    SEEDEDUNSEEDED
    S.C. BragaFenerbahçe S.K
    FC Dynamo KyivUdinese Calcio
    PanathinaikosLille OSC
    F.C. KøbenhavnMálaga CF
    FC Spartak MoscowBorussia Mönchengladbach

    That previous table is slightly lacking in Scottish interest; I’m sure ‘Well fans will be interested to know who they might play if they manage to pull off a ‘shock’ in the previous round.  In that case, their potential opponents would depend on the outcome of the other matches in the 3rd Qualifying Round.

    If we assume that the other three matches go to seeding, then our potential opponents would be Braga and Spartak Moscow plus the other three seeded teams from the previous round.  We’ve illustrated this below by assuming that we face and beat, for example, Fenerbahçe in the 3rd Qualifying Round, but the same applies if we beat Dynamo Kyiv, Panathinaikos or København (simply replace the beaten side with Fenerbahçe).

    SEEDEDUNSEEDED
    S.C. BragaUdinese Calcio
    FC Dynamo KyivLille OSC
    PanathinaikosMálaga CF
    F.C. KøbenhavnBorussia Mönchengladbach
    FC Spartak MoscowMotherwell F.C.

    If any the other ties in the previous round go in favour of the unseeded teams then Motherwell could potentially face Udinese or Lille.  It is not possible that they could face Málaga or Borussia Mönchengladbach though – both of these sides are guaranteed to be unseeded in the Play-off Round.

    The teams who reach this round are guaranteed a place in a group stage of some sort.  The five winners progress to the Champions League Group Stage, while the five losers will drop down to the Europa League Group Stage.

    Article adapted, with thanks, from: SPLstats blog

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    Season ticket early bird offer

    You have until next Thursday (31st May) to take advantage of our early bird offer so there really is no time to waste!

    Did we mention with your season ticket you would be guaranteed a ticket for our home European matches? No need to worry about getting a ticket for huge matches against some of Europe’s finest.

    But that is not all…..

    A season ticket, whether bought individually or as part of a family package, represents tremendous value. We have completely frozen prices from last season so if you picked up your ticket after the early-bird offer last term; you have an opportunity to actually save money on your ticket.

    We have also continued our ‘WELLevate‘ scheme which allows any adult or senior citizen buying a season ticket at Fir Park to claim a juvenile ticket absolutely free of charge or TWO U16s tickets if you sit in the Cooper Stand.

    Attendances have grown 25% over the last two years because of this brilliant initiative – perhaps the single most effective way of recruiting new, younger fans over the last 100 years

    The excellent Season Ticket offers which can be used to earn a host of discounts in a number of well-known businesses throughout Lanarkshire has also been extended.

    We’ve added the likes of M&D’s, Tony Macaroni, Hamilton Palace, Knockhill Racing and Esporta to the 38 strong list which already contained the likes of McDonalds, KFC, Subway, Pizzahut, LivingWell Health Club, Evans Halshaw and many, many more.

    We are Scotland’s Family and Community Club and we want and need you to be a part of that.

    -CLICK HERE FOR ALL THE INFORMATION AND PRICES-

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    TV: Lasley signs extended contract

    Motherwell Football Club are today delighted to confirm talismanic midfielder Keith Lasley has committed himself to the club for a further two years.

    The 32-year old, recently named supporters Player of the Year for the second successive campaign, enjoyed arguably his best season at Fir Park, helping the Steelmen book a spot in the Champions League for the first time ever.

    Lasley, who will likely take up the role of club captain, has played 298 games in Claret and Amber over a 14-year spell, punctured by two years with Plymouth Argyle between 2004 and 2006.

    He becomes the second mainstay of the squad to sign an extension after Stevie Hammell confirmed a deal to stay on until 2014 and like Hammell; he has been awarded a testimonial match.

    Speaking exclusively to MFC TV, Lasley said:  “I am delighted; I never wanted to leave Motherwell.

    “It was similar to any contract, there were negotiations back and forth but I am just so pleased it has been sorted out. I am already looking forward to next season.

    “There was other interest and a few other interested clubs and obviously you have got to think about your family. But I’ve been here a long time now and, with how good a season we had and how much I enjoyed it as well as the relationship I have with the fans and the club and that was certainly a swaying factor in me saying.”

    Chief Executive Leeann Dempster added, “We are thrilled Keith has joined Stevie Hammell in staying on at the club.

    “Keeping our experienced players, who are amongst our most consistent performers, was obviously high on our priority list. We are still negotiating with others but we hope both players staying will send out a message of intent.”

    -WATCH KEITH’S EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW ON MFC TV-

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    Ojamaa up for Estonia debut

    Estonian sharpshooter Henrik Ojamaa hopes to make his full international debut as his country gears up for four big friendly matches in the next fortnight.

    Tarmo Rüütli’s side will face Croatia in Rijeka tomorrow before taking on Ukraine on Monday. The Sinisärgid will be back on home soil on June 1st to take on Finland before rounding off their group of games with a glamour tie against the French in Le Mans on June 5th.

    Ojamaa, who has been capped several times as a youth, told motherwellfc.co.uk of his pride at representing his country at senior level.

    “I am very proud to have this opportunity to represent my nation and test myself against some of Europe´s top players,” he said.

    “I have been involved in every youth international level in my career and that has led up to being involved with the full squad at the age of 21, so I am really looking forward to it.

    “It’s quite a tight schedule over next twelve days and the coach has said he will make full use of the squad. We travelled to Croatia today (Thursday) with our strongest line-up looking to give a talented side a good game.”

    It has been a whirlwind five months for the youngster who first appeared at Fir Park on trial towards the tail end of 2011.

    [pullquote]I have been involved in all the games from January onward and I feel in good shape. I took a lot of confidence from the success I enjoyed with Motherwell; joining the club has been great for my career.[/pullquote]

    Stuart McCall seen enough in the striker to offer him a short-term deal but few could have predicted the impact he would have.

    9 goals in 14 starts, a new two-and-a-half year deal and numerous awards made him an instant hit with the Fir Park faithful and Ojamaa is quick to acknowledge what joining Motherwell has done for his career.

    He continued: “It has been a great season both for Motherwell and me and I feel really good going into these matches.

    “I have been involved in all the games from January onward and I feel in good shape. I took a lot of confidence from the success I enjoyed with Motherwell; joining the club has been great for my career.

    “I had been searching for a club where the style of play would give me the best possible platform to showcase my talent and improve as a player. Also the manager showed a lot of trust in me which gave me the confidence to go out and play at the best of my ability.

    “The prospect of also being involved in Champions League with Motherwell makes it a very interesting summer for me; every good player wants to test himself against the very best and this gives me a great opportunity to see where I am at with my development.

    “It’s going to be fascinating to see how far we can go as a team because after such a successful season, confidence is high and everyone is looking forward to the new season.”

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    Photography courtesy of: Toomas Huik/Postimees

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    Club Statement: Rangers FC

    Following numerous enquiries as to the clubs’ position on the situation at Rangers FC from both supporters and members of the media, the board has issued the following statement.

    “The club continues to actively participate in the discussions being held at the SPL in relation to the current issues at Rangers Football Club.

    “To date we have seen no proposals to transfer a share in the SPL to a “Newco” and have therefore made no decision on how we would vote if such a scenario did arise. We have purposefully avoided making any public statements to date given the uncertainty of the situation and the lack of any clarity on what, if anything, we will be required to vote on.

    “Once we have full information we will be able to decide our position. Any speculation on the basis of conjecture only adds to the damage to the game and all of our interests.

    “We are well progressed with a plan that is designed to bring both fan ownership and long term financial stability to the club, without reliance on funding from either a bank or a benefactor. We do not believe we can separate the sporting integrity of our league from the sustainable future of our club; the two go hand in hand.

    “Any decisions we take as a Board are made in the best interests of the club with a view to achieving our stated aims for ownership and funding.

    “In the event that a “Newco” proposal is presented to us, we intend to fully discuss with representatives of our supporters groups, prior to making any decision.”

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    McCall confirms Clancy exit

    ‘Well boss Stuart McCall has today confirmed to motherwellfc.co.uk that Tim Clancy will depart the club after rejecting a new contract.

    The club had offered the 27-year old former Kilmarnock defender a two-year extension but both his agent and the player himself have informed the manager his intent to pursue his career elsewhere.

    McCall said, “Both Tim and his agent, Kevin Drinkell, have kept me up-to-date on his situation and have confirmed he will take up other options.

    “Tim was keen to stress how much he enjoyed his time at Fir Park in what was probably one of the best seasons of his career. It was a short-term deal that really worked for both parties.

    “Obviously we are a little disappointed that we won’t have him about the place next season but I respect his decision. We obviously have alternative plans which we will now pursue.”

    Clancy told the motherwellfc.co.uk, “It was a very hard decision for me to leave as I loved my time at the club so much.

    “I have read online that I have been quoted as saying that any move away would be a ‘step up’ – I said nothing of the sort and have no idea where it has came from. I have too much respect for the club, the manager and the fans for that.

    “I want thank everyone for making me feel so welcome and I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for the boys when they embark on their European run in July.”

    Everyone at the club would like to thank Tim for all his efforts in his eight months at Fir Park and wish him every success in his future career.

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    Steelmen launch new third kit

    Motherwell Football Club are delighted to showcase the new PUMA third kit for the 2012/2013 season.

    It is Motherwell’s third year with manufacturing giants and the second with principle sponsors Cash Converters.

    The kit is a celebration of the 100th anniversary (1913) of Motherwell changing from our original blue colour to the now traditional Claret and Amber, so widely recognised in British football.

    Motherwell’s retail manager Alan Provan from PSL said, “We have a huge depth of talented designers in our support and we used their ideas and design suggestions, along with the skills of the Puma design department, to come up with what we believe is a very stylish kit.

    “The idea was to use the original blue, or as close to it as possible, whilst maintaining the key colours of Claret and Amber that we changed to nearly 100 years ago. We saw several draft designs before deciding on this one. Even after the graphics had been agreed we still had to wait for the finished sample to arrive.

    “When it did, everyone at the Club was absolutely delighted with the result. I believe it’s one of the most striking kits we have been involved with here at Fir Park. I’m also extremely pleased that there had been considerable fan input into this design. The guys on the messageboard forum may not have known it at the time but their conversations contributed to this landmark kit which I know the players in particular are delighted with.

    “We are looking forward to getting the shirts on sale long before we venture into Europe at the star of a very exciting season for the Club.”

    Roger Harrison, PUMA UK Marketing Director comments: “This is our third season with Motherwell and we’re really pleased to continue our partnership into 2012/13. Working with Motherwell isn’t just about the exposure for PUMA as an already successful, but growing brand; it allows us to demonstrate our ability to deliver a strong service to an equally successful club, its team and supporters.

    “Our relationship and commitment to Motherwell is key to PUMA’s strategy to expand our position in the global football market.”
     
    The relationship between brand and Club will be managed and delivered by www.GenesisSports.co.uk. Genesis Sports Sales Director, Russell Thomas said: “As the brand’s exclusive licensee for PUMA Pro Teamsports, Genesis is delighted to be chosen to supply Motherwell’s kit for the new season.

    “It’s a great partnership with a fantastic club, delivering the full range of Technical Kit and training wear for both players and supporters.”

    The full kit will go on sale from Friday 8th June 2012 but you can pre-order the kit now from Motherwell Direct by clicking the link below.

    -PRE ORDER YOUR 2012/2013 MOTHERWELL THIRD KIT NOW-

    New Kit

    New Kit

    New Kit

    New Kit

    New Kit

    New Kit

    New Kit

    New Kit

    New Kit

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    TV: Humphrey sets off for Jamaica

    Wing-wizard Chris Humphrey told MFC TV he can’t wait to get his International career underway as he prepares to fly out to Jamaica.

    The 24-year old has been selected for the Reggae Boyz by boss Theodore Whitmore for the friendly double-header against Panama in the next ten days.

    He will join up with teammate Omar Daley in the squad hoping to make his full debut for the country of his birth and play his way into contention for the CONCACAF 2014 World Cup Group A Qualifiers against Guatemala on June 8th and Antigua & Barbuda on June 12th.

    [pullquote]I’ve always dreamed of being an International player and that has come true. My aim is to go over there, hopefully give a good account of myself and see where it goes.[/pullquote]

    The former Shrewsbury Town man has waited almost eighteen months for his International future to be confirmed and admitted it is a relief to finally take the next step in his career.

    “I am absolutely delighted things have been sorted; it is such a relief,” he said.

    “There has been a lot of waiting but now the day has finally come for me to meet up with the squad, there’s a bit of stress been taken off my shoulders. It’s finally going to happen and I can’t wait.

    “I’ve always dreamed of being an International player and that has come true. My aim is to go over there, hopefully give a good account of myself and see where it goes. First of all there are two challenge matches and hopefully I can get some game time there. If that goes well, then my aim is to be included in the squad for the games against Guatemala and Antigua.

    “These are big games – the World Cup groups are so tight and both ourselves and the USA will have identified these games as must win if we are to top the group so it’s a big couple of weeks for everyone.

    “I just can’t wait to get on the plane, get over there and get involved.”

    -WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW EXCLUSIVELY ON MFC TV-

    Chris will keep a diary of his International exploits on motherwellfc.co.uk over the next few weeks, sharing stories and pictures of how he gets on.

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    Accies friendly confirmed

    Motherwell will take on Lanarkshire neighbours Hamilton Accies in a pre-season friendly match at New Douglas Park on Tuesday 24th July.

    The match will kick-off at 7pm as Stuart McCall’s men prepare for the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League.

    “We have been working for some time now to get our pre-season plans confirmed as early as possible,” McCall told motherwellfc.co.uk

    “It is great news that we will play a Lanarkshire derby against Hamilton on their own patch, it will be a real tester as they are very decent side with talented players.

    “I am sure both sets of fans will enjoy it given we missed that match in the SPL last season.”

    Ticketing information for the match will be confirmed at a later date. Additional pre-season matches will be announced on the official website as soon as they are confirmed.

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    TV: Hammell pens two-year extension

    Motherwell FC are delighted to confirm Stevie Hammell has this evening signed a two-year contract extension.

    Hammell, 30, has played thirteen seasons in the first-team at Fir Park, racking up an incredible 426 games. 368 of those appearances have came in the Scottish Premier League – the highest of any player since the competition started in 1998.

    The left-back broke into the Motherwell first-team back in 2000 and, aside from an 18-month spell with then Championship club Southend United, he has been a virtual ever present since.

    This season has arguably been amongst his best, playing 41 games in a season when the Steelmen confirmed Champions League football for the first time in the clubs’ history.

    Speaking exclusively to MFC TV, Hammell said, “I am absolutely delighted to have signed.

    “It dragged on a little longer than I would have wanted but I can now look forward to next season. The Champions League is probably the best achievement I have managed in my time at Fir Park and we are all looking forward to it.

    “Hopefully we can get the rest of the boys signed up, keep this squad together, and go on to have another excellent campaign.”

    -WATCH STEVIE HAMMELL’S REACTION EXCLUSIVELY ON MFC TV-

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