It’s what everyone has been talking about of late, and it may well have a strong bearing on the headlines in Scottish football over the course of the season to come. Celtic are back amongst the big boys in the Champions League for the 2017/18 campaign. But opinions are divided on whether the implications of their qualification are positive or negative for the wider game in Scotland. Celtic’s coffers will be positively overflowing when the Champions League money comes in, but there are important financial considerations for the rest of the league too.
Cash coming in
The Hoops will bank €30million for their participation in Champions League Group B alongside Paris Saint Germain, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht. Celtic receive a €12.7million bonus for qualification alone, which will be supplemented by €1.5million for each win they pick up and €500k for every draw. Should they match their best Champions League-era finish by reaching the last 16, which they are 10/1 to do with Betway Sports, they will receive an additional €6million. If Brendan Rodgers’ Invincibles go one better, they will see another €6.5million in revenue.
Fans of other clubs seem to be underestimating the benefits of the fact that every other team in the top flight will receive €401,000 (£365,000) to spend on youth development as a result of Celtic’s qualification – with the added bonus that the money is delivered in one lump sum. With unearthing and nurturing new talent to take Scottish football onto new heights being the expressed aim of the funds, it seems hard to argue that this is not a good thing. With Scottish football enjoying some much-needed financial positivity in light of Begbies Traynor’s April report revealing that only one of the country’s top 42 clubs is in financial distress, this is an extra boost to build on that buoyancy. With every football club in the Premiership benefiting financially as a result of Celtic’s success, there appears to be little room for bitterness.
Scotland in Europe’s premier competition
The likes of Gianluigi Buffon saying before the Group Stage draw that he wanted one final chance to experience the ‘electric’ atmosphere of Parkhead is also surely only a positive for the reputation of the league as a whole. Whatever your allegiances, a team representing Scotland in the continent’s premier competition is something to be supported rather than undermined. And Celtic being able to attract and indeed keep the calibre of player that demands to be playing at this very top level is no bad thing for Scottish football either.
On the pitch, there seems to be equally little reason to grumble. If Celtic are getting the chance to stretch themselves by doing battle with Europe’s elite, the quality of their football can only improve. They will bring their learnings back to the domestic scene and in turn, they will bring the standard up in the league as a whole.
The rivals’ view
Motherwell CEO Alan Burrows was fairly unequivocal in his assessment of the debate.
“Brendan Rodgers was right to say that every Scottish club should be behind them. People go on about how that will just widen the gap between Celtic and the rest but anyone who says that Celtic reaching the Champions League is bad for Scottish football is off their heads.
“It’s important for the prestige of our game that our teams are competing at the highest level and I just wish Aberdeen, Rangers and St Johnstone had done better in the Europa League,” he said.
Aberdeen could be forgiven for being fairly damning on the payments Celtic are to receive as it was they who came closest to knocking the Hoops off their perch in last season’s table, but in fact chairman Stewart Milne was positive about the whole affair.
“We all really want to see Celtic doing well and it would be fantastic if they could get beyond the group stage and hopefully they can if they get a decent group,” he said.
Scottish football has had its fair share of issues in recent times, but the success of one of its teams shouldn’t really be one. Thankfully the game is in the best place that it has been for a while on the pitch, and that’s something that should be celebrated.