There are not many better places to be than Celtic on a Champions League night, but after Tuesday night’s embarrassing 4-1 defeat; which could have been worse as Polish side Legia Warsaw missed two penalties; the Glasgow side from Celtic Park are now facing a year without Champions League football. What would no Champions League mean for ‘The Bhoys’ ,and just how much would it affect them.
Firstly the money gained from being in the Champions League is a major bonus to any side. If a side qualifies from the play-off rounds, they get £8.4 Million just for competing in the group stage fixtures. Group stage wins are worth £780,000 and £394,000 for every draw. On top of these figures they could expect to get around £8.7 million from the TV side of things to, altogether this adds up to around £17 million just for completing the group stages of the competition, and this doesn’t include money received for wins and draws. This is a huge amount of money that Celtic could miss out on, having a huge impact on the Club and putting a strain on the clubs finances.
Playing in the Champions League helps in attracting new players to the club and keeping players like Fraser Forster at the club, not competing in the Champions League can mean that players may not want to come to a club who just competes in the Scottish League and the Scottish Cups, which has to be said aren’t the greatest of standards. Although they could yet qualify for the Europa League if they fail to get into the Champions League, this is still nowhere near the attraction of the Champions League for players. Potential Celtic signings may have second thoughts because of the lack of playing in Europe’s premier competition, and concerns that Celtic may not gain them enough recognition to help advance International call up’s.
The fans of Celtic will remember the night where they toppled arguably the greatest team of all time in club football Barcelona 2-1 at Celtic Park in 2012, the atmosphere that night was probably the greatest I have ever witnessed when Tony Watt netted the second Celtic goal. But the cruel reality is that there may not be any nights like that this season, and instead of facing the Galacticos of Real Madrid, they could be facing ‘The Blue Brazil’ in Cowdenbeath in a league cup replay instead. Celtic will consider the Europa League second best, if they get knocked out of the Champions League, they would surely rather face Bayern Munich than Moldovan FC Sheriff.
The Celtic fans would miss the Club playing the big European sides, these games being on a different skill level than the normal week in week out Scottish League games. The Champions League certainly attracts the Celtic fans; their average Scottish League attendance of 47,049 being smaller than their around 55,000 average in the Champions League .
Having said all this, the one time winners of the European Cup are not yet out, and Callum McGregor’s away goal could yet prove vital in the tie. A 3-0 win at Murrayfield next Wednesday; as Celtic Park is being used for the Commonwealth games; is not out of the question, but it will be difficult , you feel if Legia Warsaw score 1 away goal the tie may be over as Celtic then need 5 to go through. The fact is Celtic need Champions League football, they thrive under it, the club and its players seem to step up a level when it comes to Europe, but will they get there this year? And just how much would it affect them if they go out?