Celtic Champions League run a ‘huge boost for SPFL’

Celtic players celebrate James Forrest's winner. Picture: Robert Perry
Celtic players celebrate James Forrest's winner. Picture: Robert Perry
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NEIL Doncaster has hailed Celtic’s success in reaching the group stage of the Champions League and is certain it will help the Scottish Professional Football League’s ongoing search for a sponsor.

The SPFL chief executive also confirmed that each Premiership club will benefit to the tune of £100,000 due to Celtic’s progress to the group stage for a second successive year. Doncaster said: “It is broadly likely to be in that region. It is solidarity money that is increased if you have a club in the group stage.”

Doncaster was speaking at the third round draw for the Scottish Communities League Cup at Easter Road, where Celtic were handed a home tie against Morton.

The draw itself was made by Shona Robison, the minister for Commonwealth Games and Sports, and Billy Singh, of the SPFL trust.

Afterwards, referring to Celtic’s qualification, Doncaster said: “It is massive on a number of different levels. Clearly, on a reputation basis, it helps the entire game. All 42 clubs would have been right behind Celtic last night and would be delighted that they have reached the group stage. The achievement is made all the more remarkable in view of the three tough qualifying rounds they had to negotiate, which is a product of the co-efficient after a number of years of performances which were below par across the game.

“Last year clearly helped and brought us back in the right direction and this will help again,” added Doncaster.

He now believes there will be fresh interest from companies who wish to see their name associated with the SPFL after being put off in the summer as the league endured a difficult and protracted birth.

“Success attracts money,” added Doncaster. “And it attracts profile. Sponsors want to be part of a success story that is getting attention on a world stage. There is no doubt that the Champions League stage is the biggest stage of all. To have a representative in the Champions League stage, that benefits the entire country.

“Things like last night and a successful League Cup second round this week all help. At the moment there are many reasons to be positive about the Scottish league system. The biggest problem was the uncertainty that the reconstruction process caused for so many months.

“To only get clarity on June 27 is very late in the day and these major companies that have budgets that need to be signed off several months in advance so, when you are dealing with big organisations, you cannot expect them to be quick and nimble in their decision making.”

Other notable ties in yesterday’s draw included the romantic-sounding one between Heart of Midlothian and Queen of the South. The Dumfries side’s reward for eliminating holders St Mirren is a trip to Tynecastle to face Gary Locke’s young team.

Jackie McNamara’s Dundee United have been paired with his former club Partick Thistle at Tannadice, while Aberdeen face a tricky away match against Falkirk. Hibs, meanwhile, have a home tie against Stranraer, who knocked Ross County out 3-2 on Tuesday night.