Porto will head to the courts to reclaim their
Champions League spot [GALLO/GETTY]
FC Porto has lost its place in next season's Uefa Champions League after a bribery scandal.

Uefa barred the club from the lucrative competition in a decision which the Portuguese champion immediately said it would appeal.

In Portugal's biggest football scandal, Porto was last month deducted six points for trying to bribe referees in two games during the 2003-04 season.

Porto's statement, posted on the website of the Lisbon Stock Exchange where the club's shares are listed, provided no further details.

Club officials could not immediately be reached for comment. Uefa said it would soon issue a statement.

Porto was runaway leader in the Portuguese league and secured its third straight league title despite the points deduction, claiming an automatic spot in the Champions League group stage.

But after its conviction by the Portuguese football authorities Porto was subject to Article 1 of the Champions League regulations.

It states that a club "must not be or have been involved in any activity aimed at arranging or influencing the outcome of a match at national or international level."

The AC Milan precedent

There is a precedent for exceptions.

AC Milan was barred in 2006 because of an Italian corruption investigation, but won the right to play after an appeal.

It went on to win the Champions League that season.

Porto made at least $18 million in prize money and television deals from last season's competition by winning its group before being knocked out in the round of 16.

Porto won one of the two 2004-04 Portuguese league games that were investigated and drew the other on its way to clinching the championship title under then coach Jose Mourinho.

The Portuguese league's disciplinary committee fined the club $232,000 and barred chairman Jorge Pinto da Costa from the bench during matches for two years.

The charges were taken from a lawsuit brought by Portugal's public prosecutor against Porto's chairman for alleged attempted bribery.

No date has been set for the trial.

Pinto da Costa has denied the allegations. Mourinho is not mentioned in the league charges or in the lawsuit.