How Celtic can take advantage of Super League uncertainty

By Euan Davidson

April 20, 2021

Not sure if you saw, but there was some news yesterday, and while it doesn’t involve Celtic directly, it doesn’t not involve us either.

Yes! Football has got to that “wee guys playing FIFA” stage, inevitably. European behemoths like Tottenham Hotspur (last trophy win: Carling Cup, 07-08) and AC Milan (last Serie A title: 10-11) have decided to seek mediocrity elsewhere.

If that has a tone of saltiness as opposed to utter despair, then apologies. It’s meant to come across as completely desperate sadness. While Football was in the long-running process of losing its soul regardless, the formation of a Super League is a death knell. It’s the end of top-flight romanticism in Europe. Money talks, as it always does, but the obscene amounts on offer in the Super League tell their own story [BBC].

Where does this leave Celtic? Well, there are about a million answers to that question. There’s the moral condundrum: would the Bhoys join a Super League 2? Or, if the founders are in a pinch, would they invite us? It seems unlikely, but we have a “global brand” on par with a number of big-hitters. And a massive fanbase and top stadium.

That said, we have to assume that in the immediate future, that the Scottish top-flight will remain in stasis, and that’s a good thing. The unique beauty of Scottish Football is like nothing else on the planet. To miss out on that patter on a weekly basis would make us all poorer.

"Carl Starfelt to Celtic is a big possibility" | Swedish journalist Anel Avdić

But what about European competition over the next few seasons? Let’s have a look.

There’ll still be Bayern, admittedly / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Celtic can make up co-efficient shortfall in wake of Super League

When you talk about taking 12 massive names from UEFA’s premier competitions, there’s a race. If, indeed, the 12 clubs do go off to their own league, Celtic immediately find themselves in Europe’s top 35 sides [UEFA]. Granted, it’d be significantly better if we could get into a Quarter Finals now and then, but those are the breaks.

Now, fine: without the top 6 of England, Real Madrid, Barca et al, there’ll inevitably be less TV money on offer in the Champions League. Still, it’d be more than enough to help us out substantially. It’s not like UEFA are short on cash, and it wouldn’t be an enormous surprise if Champions League contestants aren’t rewarded a little more for their loyalty in the short-term.

That’s incentive, if incentive ever existed. The Champions League will be of lower quality, absolutely, but it’s these clubs’ choice to abandon the biggest club competition in football. It doesn’t make it any less exciting, historic and – from a Celtic perspective – still very much the Holy Grail.

When you take England’s considerable coefficient out of the running, as well as Spain’s big two, there’s a sizeable chunk of kudos on offer. Celtic absolutely have to exploit this.

Kolo Toure still has Sergio Aguero in his back-pocket / (Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

For a club like Celtic, this could actually be good

Have no fear on this score – there’ll still be big money for getting into the Champions’ League. While qualifying is by no means a certainty for us these days, the route will surely be easier.

If you cut the leagues with the highest coefficients out of the picture, the route to qualification surely becomes much easier. Celtic would be far closer to seeded entry to the main table of European football, and the income that follows. That has massive implications in the club’s future; being able to secure talent and – shockingly – beat Stoke City to transfer targets, you’d imagine.

While the status of the Champions League in the future is a big unknown, looking ahead, it’s not as if it’ll fold tomorrow. If anything, we’ll be in a strange situation where the CL becomes a plucky underdog tournament, a salt of the Earth version of the Super League. The “real football” tournament.

If anyone could’ve predicted that before the weekend, I’ll give you a fiver and send you to the newsagents to do my lottery tickets.

So, while the sport en masse is under massive threat, there are kernels of optimism here. From a Celtic perspective, that’s more than welcome.

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