CELTIC have received a Champions League setback with the news the title winners will NOT automatically qualify for the group stage of the 2025/26 Champions League.

Scotland last night dropped out of the UEFA coefficient top 10 rankings following Viktoria Plzen’s goalless home stalemate against Fiorentina in the first leg of the Europa Conference League quarter-final.

The Czech club went into the encounter against the Serie A outfit with the knowledge a draw in either leg was enough to see their nation leapfrog the Scots in the standings, according to a report in the Daily Record.

The result means the Hoops, assuming they qualify, of course, have lost their automatic entry to Europe’s most prestigious tournament for the season after next.

SOMETHING TO SHOUT ABOUT…Kyogo Furuhashi slams Celtic into the lead against Lazio – but a stoppage-time goal brought agony for the hosts.

This season’s triumphant Premiership team are guaranteed a Champions League group stage spot and big prize money – at least £30million – but that will now be lost for whoever finishes top in 2024/25.

Now, though, the championship winner will face one qualification round with the club finishing second requiring to battle through THREE qualifiers to reach the group stage.

Brendan Rodgers’ men finished bottom of their Champions League group this season with just one win – 2-1 against Feyenoord at Parkhead in December – and a draw, 2-2 with Atletico Madrid in Glasgow in October.

The other four games resulted in losses, including home and away reverses against Lazio.

Last night’s defining match between the Czechs and the Italians was an uninspired scoreless stalemate that had one reporter observing ruefully: “The game had all the immediacy of an obese and geriatric dachshund chasing a squirrel in the backyard.”


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