Confirmed: UEFA abolish away goals rule; Celtic affected from next month

By David Walton

June 24, 2021

UEFA have today confirmed the abolishment of the away goals rule, with Celtic to be affected in their European campaign this year.

The decision was made by the UEFA Executive Committee after a recommendation from the UEFA Club Competitions Committee and the Women’s Football Committee.

Celtic are due to kick off their Champions League qualifying campaign against FC Midtjylland on July 20th. Today’s decision means that the away goal rule will not be in use.

The rule was used to determine the winner of ties where both teams had scored the same number of goals. The team with the higher number of away goals would be deemed victorious. However, UEFA have highlighted a decrease in home advantage as a key reason for the decision.

Speaking via UEFA’s official website, president Aleksandar Ceferin said: “The away goals rule has been an intrinsic part of UEFA competitions since it was introduced in 1965. However, the question of its abolition has been debated at various UEFA meetings over the last few years. Although there was no unanimity of views, many coaches, fans and other football stakeholders have questioned its fairness and have expressed a preference for the rule to be abolished.

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“The impact of the rule now runs counter to its original purpose as, in fact, it now dissuades home teams – especially in first legs – from attacking, because they fear conceding a goal that would give their opponents a crucial advantage. There is also criticism of the unfairness, especially in extra time, of obliging the home team to score twice when the away team has scored.

“It is fair to say that home advantage is nowadays no longer as significant as it once was.”

UEFA decision gives Celtic more room for error at Parkhead

The away goal rule had its advantages and disadvantages. One of the pros was that it tempted teams to come out and attack away from home to try and gain a competitive advantage for the return leg. Drawing 0-0 away was never really considered a poor result for the hosts.

However, it also came with some pretty disadvantageous aspects too. For lesser sides, it often meant that a win over a bigger club, which would normally be historic, could still have seen them knocked out if it was matched in the return leg by conceding a goal at home. Bigger sides will always find it easier to attack in both ties, giving an extra disadvantage to the lesser teams.

UEFA have also confirmed that away goals won’t be used to determine group stage standings either. For Celtic, all of this could be a real advantage at Parkhead.

Celtic have had their issues with conceding Euro goals at home (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Knowing that a 2-1, 3-2, or even 4-3 win is just as valuable as a 1-0 is certainly ideal. Not least because we tend to give goals away in Europe far too often. It gives you more room for error when playing at home.

Keeping European clean sheets at Parkhead has always been an issue. We shipped two to Ferencvaros last season in the UCL qualifiers. Sarajevo and Cluj scored four between them the season beforehand. Rosenborg and AEK Athens also netted in the 2018 qualifiers.

It’s promising to know that goals conceded at home won’t be as disastrous as they once were. Finally UEFA have made a move that could give Celtic a boost.

In other news, Robin Olsen is bossing Euro 2020, and it’s time Celtic made their move.


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