The last time a Rangers team competed in the group stages of the Champions League was in 2010/11.
However, their Europa League quarter-final draw against Portuguese sid SC Braga has opened up the possibility of both Rangers and Celtic BOTH playing in club football’s biggest competition for the first time in 15 years.
Current manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Ibrox icon Graeme Souness have both stressed in recent weeks that Rangers are capable of winning the trophy.
If they were to do just that at the Ramon Sanxhez Pizjaun stadium in Seville on May 18 it would guarantee that two Scottish clubs were mixing with the big boys for the first time since 2007/08, when Walter Smith’s side dropped into the UEFA Cup and lost 2-0 to Dick Advocaat’s Zenit St Petersburg in the final.
The only other outcome which would prevent that happening would be if one of the Champions League quarter-finalists who are unlikely to qualify for the competition next season through their league placing wins the big cup. Valencia, who have been drawn against Bayern Munich, are the only club in that position.
A Europa League triumph would see Rangers rake in an extra £11.07m in prize money from UEFA for Rangers as well as the money-spinning guarantee of automatic qualification for the Champions League and the £35-40m revenue which goes with it.
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Celtic would join them if they can hold on to their current place at the top of the table.
However, if Rangers can retain their title then Celtic would be depending on their derby rivals to win a second European competition because, having already earned the right to compete in the Champions League through their domestic results, that prize would then be awarded to the runners -up in their league.
Either way, the improvement in Scotland’s co-efficient, largely driven by Rangers’ European success after Christmas in the past four years, means that the big two’s top-flight rivals will receive life-changing cash.
UEFA will announce in September the solidarity payments made to the non-participating members of leagues which have clubs involved in the group phase of the Champions League.
Scotland have achieved that status just twice in the last eight years, with Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic progressing in 2016/17 and again the following season.
In 2018, the figures paid to the other 11 Premiership members was £370,000. That figure is expected to be in the region of £1million this year and it will be given to each of the other ten or 11 Premiership clubs. Having two clubs competing does not, unfortunately, double the size of the solidarity payments.
The money, which will be paid out next year, will go to the clubs which played in the Premiership this season.
Rangers’ advance to the last eight of the Europa League, combined with results elsewhere, also guarantees automatic Champions League football for the Premiership winners in 2022/23, with a similar bonus for their rivals payable in 2024.
The one downside to a Rangers Europa League victory would be that Scotland could lose a Europa Conference League place next term and even that could depend on whether Russian, Belarussian and Ukranian clubs are able to compete.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.