Tonight my team Celtic take part in the UEFA Champions League Second Qualifying round.
I’m looking forward to the occasion and have great memories of our previous Champions League experiences, win or lose it’s been fantastic just being there.
But when that theme tune based on Zadok The Priest belts out in the stadium and the crowd go wild then there is no better place to be than Celtic Park on a Champions League night.
Watching it on tv just does’t compare.
Sitting in the house watching your nearest rivals compete is a sickener .. a real punch in the guts and you want them to fail .. because thats what rivalry is .. us to win, you to fail.
See all the “Support the Scottish team” and all that “good for Scottish football” bullshit .. get a grip .. but don’t confuse this with bigotry .. see my separate post on rivalry.
Of course, I’ll support the Scottish team and want Aberdeen etc to do well in all European competitions but not that defunct team who used to be our closest rivals, not then, not their tribute act now, not ever.
But I might be about to contradict myself!
The UEFA Champions league has a number of stages :-
Group where 22 teams get directly entry because of their countries coefficients, 10 teams are then added from the third round play-offs. these contain the real big boys of Barcelona, Bayern Munich etc. But also some lesser known teams such as FC Zenit who are through as champions of their countries and not because of their own club coefficient.
Thats fair enough.
The earlier rounds, third, second, first are , with no offence intended .. populated by countires and teams that are largely obscure and / or perhaps only recently became part of the European Union
Whats not fair enough, is that the “bigger” countries get as many as 4 teams with direct entries into the group stages, 4 teams for Spain for direct entry, 5 with Valencia in the Play-offs, 3 for England and Germany, or 4 with an additional team entering at the 3rd qualifying round.
Take Manchester United for example, 4th position in the English Premier League but qualify for the Play-Off round. Whilst Champions of lesser know countires are largely filtered out in the earlier qualifying rounds.
Thats a compete nonsense, if you want to calll this The Champions League.
Am I complaining?
Not about the fact that money talks and there are 4 English and 5 Spanish teams in the competition etc.
I am complaining that the coefficients already applied for the Spanish teams is 4.457 and the English teams at 4.35 before a ball is kicked where as Celtic and all Scottish teams get a mere 0.1.
That to me is an unfair bias, which is self serving and the countires with more teams, will continue to earn more points and it is exceptionally difficult for the smaller countries to make an impact as their probability of getting through each of the qualifying stages is negligible.
Should I hope for Scottish teams to do better?
Yes I should, and I do, all except you know who if they ever qualify. Their previous incarnations financial doping already caused my team to lose out on the oppportunity to compete.
So tonight, I’ll enjoy the occasion, even if we are a “diddy” team playing against another “diddy” team.
I’ll cheer on my team and will hope that we can get to the group stages and hear Zadok resound around the stadium .. because that is pretty special.
Just please stop calling it The Champions League because it isn’t.
The link below, is when The European Cup was a sporting competition where only the champions of the European countries or current holder were allowed .. Now its just a commercial enterprise skewed to favour the countries who already dominate the European game and ensure that they continue.