Rangers breathe no coefficient sigh of relief as Celtic Champions League trap STILL awaits them despite safety net

The Champions League ball -Credit:Getty Images
The Champions League ball -Credit:Getty Images

Celtic and Rangers are stuck in a difficult spot as far as the Champions League goes – too big to not be in it, but not enough money to truly compete.

That's the view of former Parkhead boss John Barnes who worries for the future of Scottish football if our teams end up frozen out of Europe's top competition. The Scottish Premiership champions won't necessarily automatically qualify for the Champions League from the 2025/26 season after the Czech Republic overtook Scotland in the country coefficient standings. Rangers' club coefficient could yet come to their rescue but Barnes reckons they still risk falling into the same trap as Celtic or anyone else, who will certainly have to go through a qualifier from 2025/26. That's because of the financial implications which will make it even harder for Scottish teams to compete.

It of course makes it harder for every club to make it into Europe with second through fourth, and the cup winners or the team who finishes fifth, all set to face additional qualifying rounds. It also means the team who finishes third won't enjoy the luxury of guaranteed group stage football.

And what could that mean for the Scottish game? Something pretty worrying, according to Barnes. Particularly for the Glasgow giants. He told Genting Casino: "There is a very strong possibility that the Champions League could kick off properly without one of Celtic or Rangers in there. Scottish clubs have always had difficulty mixing it up with the best teams in the Europe, even when they were more financially competitive.

"There were periods of course where Rangers and Celtic were competitive. I’m thinking about Graeme Souness’ teams that had some big players in because they had a bit of money to spend and then Celtic under Martin O’Neil and Gordon Strachan. The issue is that it’s incredibly difficult for Celtic and Rangers to compete for the best players on a financial level, which has an impact on how well the clubs can perform in the Champions League.

"Nothing personal against Celtic or Rangers, but there are lot of other clubs from European coefficients that have the same problem, it’s just that these clubs generally aren’t the size of Celtic and Rangers. It’s unfortunate for Scottish football and it would be a worry from a financial perspective if neither club made it into the Champions League properly. Unfortunately, with the rules, it’s the nature of the beast."