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Old Firm have Champions League goal in SPL battle


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THE Old Firm were today handed a massive Euro boost on the eve of the new SPL season.

 

SportTimes can today reveal the door has been left ajar for direct entry into next season's Cham-pions League for whoever wins the title.

 

It had been thought this season - when Rangers qualified automatically for the �£10million group phase - would be the last time the SPL winners would benefit from this money- spinning safe passage.

 

However, Uefa have confirmed there is still a chance the 2009/10 winners will get an automatic group slot.

 

If the winners of this season's Champions League gain entry into the 2010/11 competition by virtue of their own league position, Scot-land's champions will go straight in.

 

This was last the case back in 2005/06. Barcelona won the Champions League by beating Arsenal in Paris - but they already had a group stage berth assured from finishing top of La Liga - so Celtic went straight in and avoided a qualifier.

 

A Uefa statement said: "The position at which a club enters the Champions League is dependent on its country's ranking, which is determined by the sum of Uefa country co-efficients over the previous five years.

 

"Champions from coun- tries ranked first to 12th automatically qualify for the group stages - for season 2009/10 Scotland was ranked 10th.

 

"For season 2010/11 it has now been confirmed Scotland are ranked 13th. However, there is still a chance there could be direct qualification.

 

"If the winners of the Champions League this season also qualify for the following season's group stages through their league position, an extra space would be created in the group stages.

 

"The champions of the country ranked 13th - Scotland - would take this place."

 

The news will add an extra edge to the Old Firm's battle for the flag, and history is for them in terms of the Champions League winners already having slots through domestic performances.

 

In the past FOUR seasons the winners of Europe's ultimate prize have already had group spots secured from their league placings - and with the major operators now dominating the Champions League there is a fair chance it will happen again this season which would allow the SPL champions to sneak in.

 

Meantime, new chief executive Neil Doncaster has pledged to bring summer football to the SPL - but only if the clubs want it.

 

Doncaster has revealed he is ready to talk to those clubs who are in favour of a radical shake-up.

 

There have been calls for an introduction to summer football after a string of poor European results in the past few weeks as they go into action early.

 

"There will be no attempt to ignore the issue," said Doncaster. "But it's for clubs to decide what they want. We will consult and put options to them. But we are restricted by the international calendar.

 

"We will be looking at options for next season. We will consult the clubs and we can't afford any knee-jerk reactions."

 

 

http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/sport/display.var.2525525.0.0.php

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It had been thought this season - when Rangers qualified automatically for the �£10million group phase - would be the last time the SPL winners would benefit from this money- spinning safe passage.

 

"It had been thought..." by our incompetent and ill-informed media. The fans, especially those who had viewed Bert Kassie's website, were already well aware.

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