SPL makes major Champions League stride – thanks to Rangers

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GIBRALTAR, GIBRALTAR - SEPTEMBER 17: James Tavernier of Rangers celebrates scoring his team's opening goal with team mates during the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round match between Lincoln Red Imps and Rangers at Victoria Stadium on September 17, 2020 in Gibraltar, Gibraltar. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)

Yep, there is a long way to go, and next week’s game against Willem II will be tough, but with all three teams going through to the Third Round in the Europa League, last night, for the first time in who knows how many years, Scotland have now climbed up to a very respectable 12th place in the European coefficient, with a point total of 27.125.

At this stage we are now only 0.25 points behind Denmark, and 0.275 points behind 11th place Turkey.

And a superficial glance would now seem to suggest that to get to 10th place Scotland’s representatives (Ok, let’s face it we really mean Rangers here, because all the others usually drop out after the first round) will need to go on another impossible run to overtake Austria, who are on 29.625 points.

However, there is one important fact to keep in mind, and that is all the countries above us will soon see their substantial leads narrow, if we can maintain our recent form.

In the three seasons, between 2015 to 2018, all the countries above us performed far better in Europe than Scotland, which being blunt was not hard, because almost none of our representatives could get past the first round.

But this coincides with the fact that all the teams now currently placed between 7th to 11th had very good seasons, between 2015 and 2018, and over the next three years they will have to drop their highest point tallies.

In numerical terms, Russia reached a high of 12.600 in the 2017-2018 season and they obtained 11.5 in the 2015-2016 season. Scotland, in comparison, gained three tallies that are just painful to look at (3.000; 4.375, and 4.000). Again, this is for the seasons between 2015 to 2018.

This change alone could easily see Scotland rise rapidly up the table to perhaps 9th or even 8th position, if just one of the Scottish teams can just get past the qualifying rounds over the next three years, and play in the coveted group stages.

This year, amongst the teams competing in the Europa League Aberdeen have brought in 3 points for their two wins, Motherwell have added 2.5, and Rangers get 1.5 points for our win over the Red Imps.

Celtic, brought in 2 points for their fabulous short run in the Champions League.

So far this gives (for this year) a total of 9 points, which when averaged over the four teams gives us the grand total of 2.25 points for the current 2020-2021 season, and this has now moved Scotland up to 12th in the European table.

On the surface, a move to 12th position does not seem to mean much, because 2 champions league slots are given to the countries ranked from 7th to 15th.

So, the only difference is the round that the Scottish Champion and runner-up are permitted to enter the competition.

Just now, for the countries ranked between 10 to 14, the winner of the League goes straight to the Play-off Round of the Champions League, which could be a major disadvantage.

This is because these teams are forced to enter the competition at a much later stage, after all the weakest teams have already been knocked out, and many of the stronger teams have played numerous games together.

This means you have just one chance to progress to the group stage, but if your team loses that match they then obtain zero points for the country’s coefficient.

So, the target this year, or next year, must be to raise the Scottish coefficient back to 10th place, which would allow the winner of the Scottish Premiership (this being Glasgow Rangers) to go straight to the Group Stages (the last 32) of the Champions League.

The group stages then give you at least six matches to raise the country’s coefficient. As I mentioned previously, this system was never meant to be fair, but we now have a golden chance to make it unfair in our favour.

Makes a change, eh?