View: 'Strange quirk' could see Celtic handed European advantage over Rangers

Rangers blitzed the Scottish Premiership in the 2020/21 campaign but a “strange quirk” could see Celtic handed a significant advantage in the European qualifying rounds.

The news comes courtesy of ESPN journalist Dale Johnson, who has plotted the potential paths in Europe for the Old Firm rivals.

Johnson wrote on his personal Twitter profile that there is a “strange quirk” for Celtic and Rangers, who get their first draws on June 16 and July 19, respectively.

He also detailed: “Celtic start in Champions League second qualifying round, drawn against FC Midtjylland, Galatasaray or Rapid Vienna. Win that tie and they are guaranteed Europa League group stage football at a minimum. Losers in the League Path third qualifying round and fourth qualifying round all drop directly into the Europa League group stage.

“Not the same for Rangers.

“Rangers start in Champions League Champions path third qualifying round. If they lose, they would drop into the Europa League fourth qualifying round (Celtic go direct to the group stage).

“If Rangers are beaten in Europa League fourth qualifying round they would drop into Europa Conference League group stage. This is in recognition of the Champions Path generally being weaker than League Path.”

What does this mean?

So, if we lose in the third qualifying round then we would immediately be placed below Celtic, if they have overcome their initial qualifier.

Is that fair from UEFA?

Sure, Celtic are supposed to face ‘tougher’ opposition in their first round of matches, but they’re not exactly powerhouses of modern football, are they? Celtic are likely to be installed as favourites against FC Midtjylland and Rapid Vienna while Galatasaray proved in our 2-1 win over them last year that they’re no longer the European force that they once were.

Our potential competitors have not been outlined yet, but there is a scenario where Celtic could be handed an easier draw than us, and thus have a better chance of progression in the Champions League and, if not, then the Europa League.

Why should they be guaranteed Europa League group stage football just for beating a team like Rapid Vienna, and then failing in the next round?

Meanwhile, if we don’t win our Champions League qualifier, we would not be handed a direct route to the Europa League group stages, and would instead have to undertake another qualifier.

We back Steven Gerrard and the team to do the business regardless, but European qualifiers can be tricky, especially coming off the back of a European Championships.

It seems preposterous that there could be a set of circumstances that see Celtic handed a direct route to the Europa League stage while we have to battle it out in the qualifiers, after a season where we absolutely trounced them in the league, finishing 25 points ahead and unbeaten in the Old Firms.

In other Rangers news, BBC pundit gives ‘Incredible’ verdict after Gers star left out of SPFL Team of the Season.