Buoyed by two seasons with two clubs competing in the Europa League group stage, Scotland have reached 15th in the Uefa coefficient table. If they hold off close challenges from Cyprus, Greece, Serbia, Croatia and Switzerland, this will be enough to deliver two Champions League qualification spots for season 2021-22.
This is of no more than passing interest to perennial champions, the 10th and 11th spots are where it gets really interesting. Champions of the 10th and above place country get automatic entry into the Champions League group stage. If the previous season’s CL winners have already qualified from their domestic league, as is usually the case, the 11th place country’s champions get direct entry into the group stage.
Ukraine and Turkey currently occupy 10th and 11th spots, with Austria, Denmark and Czech Repulic also ahead of Scotland, but for the next three seasons, Scotland will lose fewer points than each of those countries. By contrast, we are ahead of all five countries last season and this.
Extrapolation is the scourge of the hopeful and we should not necessarily assume Celtic and Newco will continue to gather coefficient points at the same steady pace. But, if we were to extrapolate, this season’s performances for Scotland and the five countries immediately above us, we would overtake Ukraine, Turkey, Denmark and Czech Republic by this time next year, leaving Salzburg-inspired Austria in 10th and Scotland 11th.
The Champions League qualification competition is difficult but it is doubly difficult through the non-champions route (only two places are available this way), so I’m not too worried about splitting the Scottish TV pot with another club. The importance of nine and ten-in-a-row does not need to be stated, but a £40m bonus could sweeten the 11th successive title, should we get there.
Coming our way soon will be a fifth European spot, so points currently divided by four will likely be divided by five in season 2021-22. Let’s hope the American money arriving in Aberdeen shortly can up their game in Europe.