CELTIC have joined forces with other European clubs to push for an expanded 48-team Champions League group stage.

Chief executive Peter Lawwell teamed up with the heavy-hitters from Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Anderlecht last week and travelled to Switzerland for talks with UEFA.

They are concerned about Champions League reforms which will see teams from England, Spain, Germany and Italy get half of the 32 places on offer.

It is believed the Hoops, the Dutch duo and the Belgian representative are speaking on behalf of a larger group from European football’s smaller leagues.

According to reports, they met with UEFA secretary general Theodore Theodiridis and Champions League executive Giorgio Marchetti and lobbied for the group stage of the competition to be expanded to 48 clubs.

The UEFA chiefs were told that the new Champions Super League format would see “a collapse of Europe’s football eco-system” due to the growing gap in television income between Europe’s smaller leagues and the big four.

The new changes were introduced after top clubs threatened a breakaway, with Bayern Munich supremo Karl-Heinz Rummenigge the motivational force.

They wanted a 24-team event, with 16 spaces guaranteed for the top four leagues, but Europe’s ruling body chose to stay with the 32-team format.

Parkhead bosses are hopeful an expanded tournament will help lead to more regular European games at Celtic Park, which is regarded by many as providing the finest atmosphere for Champions League football.

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