A third UEFA competition at face value seems eye-rolling. But, in reality, this has the potential to be great news for Celtic.
The European Club Association have confirmed they’ve been given the green light for a third club competition in Europe. The number of teams in the Europa League will be whittled down from 48 teams to 32. It seems to be a similar set-up to that of the InterToto Cup, which was a competition for teams not in the Champions League or UEFA Cup.
This gives Celtic and Scottish football a massive chance to increase the nation’s coefficient.
It’s well acknowledged that Celtic have it rough trying to qualify for the Champions League. The Hoops previously had to deal with three qualifying rounds, but that’s now been bumped up to four.
AEK Athens knocked Brendan Rodgers’ side out at the third qualifying stage this season. Many believe that Celtic shouldn’t have to face so many ties in order to get into the group stage.
This is where the third competition can really come in handy for Celtic.
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The likes of Hibernian, Aberdeen, and Hearts will fancy a stab at the competition. Whilst it’s not been announced how teams qualify, you have to imagine it’ll be through league positions.
The Europa League is too difficult
The Europa League has proven to be too difficult a competition in recent years for Scottish clubs. Not one side outside of Celtic and Rangers have qualified for the group stage since 2007. These negative results are having an affect on Scotland’s UEFA coefficient. That coefficient is also what determines how many qualifiers Celtic have to play each year.
You would have to imagine the likes of Hearts and Aberdeen could do well in a third-tier competition. Both sides have real quality, as well as Hibernian. A good run in the new competition could work wonders for Celtic in the future.
It’s going to be a hard road trying to get out of the four qualifying ties the Hoops have to endure. It’ll be that way for a while. With the new tournament not being planned until the 2021-22 season, Celtic still have these torturous games for a while yet.
What it represents, however, is a glimmer of hope. With Scottish football on the up and the competition getting better, these sides should be able to compete at that level.
Celtic have been sick of flying the flag on their own for Scotland recently. It’s been negative for the coefficient and therefore negative for Celtic. We’re seeing exactly why this season.
The new competition, yet to be named, represents hope that Scottish sides may have it easier building that coefficient back up again.