Starting next season, the winners of the Ladbrokes Premiership will have to navigate four rounds of qualifiers to reach the Champions League, after changes to European football’s premier competition were announced.
Brendan Rodgers and his Celtic side entered the competition at the second qualifying round this term in the “champions route”, where they defeated Linfield over two legs before moving past Rosenborg and Astana to reach the group stages.
If, as expected, the Parkhead side take the title again this term, they’ll now enter qualifying at round one. There is scope for this to change in the future, however Scotland’s ranking would have to improve from 23rd to 17th.
There will be an introduction of a preliminary round in which four teams play a mini-tournament to reach the final, but seeing as this is for the teams in the lowest four ranked countries (currently San Marino, Andorra, Gibraltar and Kosovo) Scottish champions won’t have to worry about that.
The silver lining is that the Europa League will now offer a parachute should the Scottish champions find themselves knocked out during the qualifying phase. It used to be that only an exit in either the third qualifying round or the play-off would see a team fall into the secondary competition, now “all teams eliminated in the champions path between the preliminary round and the third qualifying round will be given a second chance”. An exit from the play-off round will still see automatic entry into the Europa League groups.
There is also changes to the way in which the club coefficient is judged, with greater emphasis placed on individual performance. As Uefa.com explains: “[This will see a] deletion of the country share for individual club coefficient unless that coefficient is lower than 20 per cent of the association’s coefficient.” Historical success will also be taken into account.
Clubs across both the Champions League and Europa League will now see a rise in revenue, with emphasis placed on more funds for teams who exit at the knockout stages. Market pool share will decrease, while there will be an increase in reward for individual sporting performance.
These changes will run until 2021 when there’s expected to be a format change to the Europa League and possibly the Champions League also.