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Sturm replace demoted Tirol

FC Tirol Innsbruck are ineligible for the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League and will be replaced in the third qualifying round by SK Sturm Graz.

Last season’s Austrian champions FC Tirol Innsbruck have been deemed ineligible to take part in this season’s UEFA club competitions, as a result of a decision by the Austrian Football Association.

No licence
It was announced two weeks ago that the club had not been given a licence for next season by the Austrian football authorities, and would have to play in the Regionalliga – the third tier of the Austrian league.

Kärnten in Europe
Following the Austrian FA’s decision, Tirol will be replaced in the European club competitions by FC Kärnten, who finished fifth in last season’s Austrian Bundesliga. Kärnten will play in the UEFA Cup qualifying round. SK Sturm Graz will represent Austria in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round. Grazer AK will play in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round, and FK Austria Wien will participate in the UEFA Cup first round.

Ten points clear
Tirol finished ten points ahead of the rest of the field in the 2001/02 Austrian Bundesliga, winning 23 and losing only seven of their 36 matches.

Guarantees not forthcoming
On 30 April, the club, facing crippling debts of some €16m, obtained a provisional licence on the condition that they presented the Austrian Bundesliga with a €4.5m income guarantee that they would be able to finish next season with their own financial means. However, such guarantees were not forthcoming, and an appeal by the club has been rejected.