Ex-Rangers secretary Campbell Ogilvie’s key role in Champions League is overlooked

There is no doubt that Lennart Johansson, whose recent passing was marked by fitting tributes at all Euro 2020 qualifiers, was one of the most widely respected football administrators of all time.

Former Rangers secretary Campbell Ogilvie. Picture: John Devlin

The affable and scrupulous Swede was a genuine football man and the world game would certainly be in a better place today had he not lost out to Sepp Blatter in the 1998 Fifa presidential election.

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Johansson was invariably a force for good during his 17 years as Uefa president and merited the kinds words directed towards his memory in so many of the obituaries published last week.

But perhaps even he would have blushed just a little at the label attached to him in many of those eulogies as the “father of the Champions League”. For while it was on Johansson’s watch that the tournament was introduced in 1992, it is less well remembered that he and Uefa general secretary Gerhard Aigner were initially resistant to the radical revamp of the European Cup.

Amid threats of a rival European Super League being formed by AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi, the introduction of a group stage format was the brainchild of Campbell Ogilvie, then secretary of Rangers, with support from Roger Vanden Stock of Anderlecht. It was only after the idea was rejected twice by Johansson and Aigner that the Champions League was born in the 1992-93 season. The rest is history – but Ogilvie’s pivotal part in it shouldn’t be forgotten so readily.