Belfast Telegraph

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Euro heartache for Coleraine

By Stuart McKinley

The financial trouble which threatened the very existence of Coleraine Football Club less than three years ago has now cost them a place in next season's UEFA Cup.

The Bannsiders have been forced to withdraw from the application process for a UEFA Licence, which is required in order to participate in European competition.

Marty Quinn's side had hoped that reaching the Irish Cup final would be enough to win them a berth in the tournament, with Linfield qualifying through their league position, but that will now not be the case.

"It is with regret that the Management Committee of Coleraine FC announces that the club will not be able to play in the UEFA Cup in 2008/09 season," said a statement issued by the club.

"This is due to a failure to meet specific UEFA requirements in respect of the UEFA Licence application and is as a result of the clubs period of Administration falling within a 3 year criteria period prior to application.

"The Management Committee wish to thank the IFA who fought our case and appealed on our behalf to UEFA but unfortunately this was to no avail."

In 2005 Coleraine were on the verge of being wound up, only for a sympathetic High Court judge to grant them a stay of execution before a fans group rescued the club.

The big winners in Coleraine's failure to gain a UEFA Licence are Cliftonville.

By finishing third in the Carnegie Premier League, Eddie Patterson's men are now guaranteed a place in one of the main European competitions for the first time in a decade, while Lisburn Distillery will now play in the Intertoto Cup in June - provided both are granted a licence next week by Europe's governing body.

The draw for what will be the last Intertoto Cup tournament before teams then enter an extended UEFA Cup in 2009, will be made on Monday, with the first-round ties scheduled for Saturday June 21 and 28.

Coleraine will, however, be granted a place in next year's Setanta Sports Cup as a reward for their Irish Cup run, as long as their domestic licence application is rubberstamped.

Belfast Telegraph

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