Premiership winners not guaranteed an automatic Champions League place

by 24britishtvOct. 21, 2021, 8 p.m. 40
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There's never a year in which winning the Scottish Premiership title isn't important, but this season is even bigger than most.

Not only are Rangers, Hearts and Celtic battling for glory, there's a huge financial windfall on offer for the team that is crowned at the end of the campaign.

Most will be familiar with the idea that this season's Premiership winners would go straight into the group stage of the Champions League and bank an instant £40million windfall - however, that's not quite correct.

While it is very likely that the Scottish champions will be playing group stage football in 2022-23, it's not a guarantee.

There is one scenario that would see the winners go into the play-off round of the qualifiers, facing a two-legged battle for that pot, and it all comes down to the UEFA coefficient.

Thanks to the exploits of Rangers and Celtic in recent years, Scotland finished last season in 11th place in the rankings.

That was a big deal as it opened up the possibility of an automatic place in the Champions League group stage but, crucially, it doesn't guarantee it.

The champions from the top 10 nations in the coefficient go straight into the group, along with the runners-up from the top 6, and the third and fourth-place teams from the big four leagues.

Those 24 are joined by six teams who came through the qualifying rounds and, crucially for Scotland's eventual champions, the Champions League and Europa League winners.

However, if the winners of the main competition have already qualified via their domestic league then the place for the Champions League winners goes to the nation ranked in 11th - meaning the Premiership champions qualify automatically.

That means there is a scenario where Rangers or Celtic miss out, but it would mean a team winning the competition without qualifying via the league.

Realistically the winners are likely to come from one of the top four leagues - England, Spain, Italy and Germany. There's also the possibility of Lionel Messi and co firing Paris Saint-Germain to the trophy.

Given that the top four in those nations and the top two in France all go into the groups automatically, it's difficult to see a scenario where the place won't go to Scotland.

For that to happen you'd need a scenario where, for example, Liverpool or Juventus win the Champions League but finish outside of the top four in the Premier League or Serie A.

The winners of UEFA's premier competition haven't failed to qualify via their domestic league since Chelsea in 2011-12, so the carrot of group stage qualification is very much there for the Premiership title runners.

As the season goes on though all eyes will be on any team not doing the business domestically but strolling it in Europe.

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