By Doug Ward

27th May, 2021 | 2:45pm

Don Hutchison furious Rangers are not automatically in Champions League group stage

BBC pundit Don Hutchison has blasted UEFA over the fact that Rangers have not automatically qualified for the Champions League group stages.

Steven Gerrard led the Gers to their 55th league title without suffering a defeat this season but despite being champions of Scotland, the Govan club have to face two rounds of qualifying before making the group stage draw.

Teams like Wolfsburg and Atalanta are already in the group stages despite not winning their leagues but Rangers will be made to earn their spot despite being Scottish title-winners.

Ex-Scotland and Liverpool midfielder Hutchison has shared his fury on Twitter after seeing what teams are already in the group stages for next term.

“Shambles that the Champions/Invincibles Rangers are not in the Champions League proper,” he said.

UEFA protects the big clubs

Remember the European Super League and how football fans came together to stop that awful plan for taking place?

UEFA’s system for the Champions League is no better.

The clue is in the name really – the ‘Champions’ League. So why are teams who finished as low as fourth granted access to the group stages when they weren’t anywhere near finishing as champions?

Rangers have had a more impressive season than Wolfsburg, for example. Juventus don’t really deserve their spot in the group stages.

But UEFA’s system ensures the big clubs stay big and powerful by pretty much ensuring they’ll be in the group stages every year.

Rangers can and will make a difference though if they continue to perform well in Europe as they have been.

Two Scottish clubs will be in the Champions League qualifying rounds this season and why is that? It’s because the Gers have done so well in the Europa League.

If Celtic had been able to do their part for the Scottish game, maybe Scotland would be ranked above Ukraine, Turkey or Belgium and have an instant group stage qualifier.

It’s always the other half of the Old Firm who are letting the Scottish game down.

In other Rangers news, this ex-Ger has spoken to Jermain Defoe about his future in Glasgow.