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Page last updated at 12:49 GMT, Friday, 19 February 2010

Champions League blow for Scottish clubs

Uefa Champions League

Europa League results mean Scotland will lose one of its two Champions League places from the 2011-12 season.

Good results for Anderlecht, Standard Liege and Club Brugge mean that Belgium has leapfrogged Scotland into 15th in Uefa's co-efficient ranking table.

Brugge beat Valencia, Standard overcame Red Bull Salzburg, while Anderlecht drew with Athletic Bilbao.

The 2010-11 Scottish Premier League winners will face three qualifiers to make the Champions League group stages.

But Champions league restructuring means the qualifying matches will be against champions from smaller European nations rather than runners-up or third- and fourth-placed sides from larger countries.

There is enough evidence to suggest that you don't have to spend £10m or £20m to get some good football players

Celtic manager Tony Mowbray

However, in a week where the publication of Old Firm financial figures laid bare the importance of Champions League qualification to both clubs, the loss of a place in Europe's premier club competition is a potential major blow.

Next season, both the SPL winners and runners-up are expected to enter the Champions League at the third qualifying round, with a further play-off round to be negotiated before the group stage.

An SPL spokesman said: "Our clubs are sorted for next season.

"It's for the season after that that Belgium are now above us."

Failure to qualify for this season's tournament was reflected in Celtic's balance sheet, which showed a decrease in turnover of almost 23% for the six months to the end of 2009, while bank debt increased from £0.97m to £3.13m.

By qualifying for the tournament as champions, for the same time period Rangers posted a profit of just over £13m.

But Celtic manager Tony Mowbray appeared relaxed about the issue of finances.

"Whilst it is important for me to be successful, the Champions League is for the supporters coming to see our team compete against the best teams in the world, not necessarily about the millions that come with it," he said.

"And yet the millions that come with it help bring players and the perpetual cycle continues.

"But it doesn't change my goal on wanting to build a team that the fans will be excited about, whether you wheel and deal with the resources that you have now or have £10m to spend."

MY SPORT: DEBATE

Mowbray believes that he will still be able to build a strong team in future years.

"I don't know what finances would be available, but we are constantly scouring the world for players and there is enough evidence to suggest that you don't have to spend £10m or £20m to get some good football players," he said.

"I like to think I have done that in the past and I'd like to think that's part of the reason we are at this club.

"We can identify talented players and put them together in to a team that can function.

"I am pretty sure that we are down the road to building long-term success."



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see also
SPL runners-up get Euro parachute
31 Oct 08 |  Scottish Premier
Rangers announce jump in profits
17 Feb 10 |  Rangers
Celtic announce drop in turnover
15 Feb 10 |  Celtic


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