As our three representitives left in Europe gear up for a place in the Europa League group stage, we have a look at what progress will do for Scottish football compared to the rest of Europe.
In the last five years our coefficients have been as follows (correct to two decimal places)
- 2007/2008 = 10.25
- 2008/2009 = 1.88
- 2009/2010 = 2.66
- 2010/2011 = 3.6
- 2011/2012 = 0.75
- Total = 19.14
After next season, 2007/2008 becomes invalid as a coefficient only lasts 5 years. Most of our points come in that season, resulting in a mass drop of Scottish club football in the rankings. UNLESS… we can do well this season.
Firstly, Austria & Switzerland are directly above us in the coefficient table and hold 2 champions league places. Ideally, we need teams from these countries to be eliminated as soon as possible from all European competitions. This is significant because Celtic have drawn Swiss side FC Sion.
Celtic are favourites, although it may be saw as a sticky fixture. Looking at the two teams, Celtic seem too strong and should progress if they keep their eye on the ball. Also, to our advantage, this will knock a Swiss team out and deny them some extra coefficient points. Former Hearts defender Jose Goncalves is the pick of their players.
Rangers have drawn Maribor of Slovenia. Again, like the Celtic draw, a potential banana skin. Looking at the two teams, Maribor have no household names but must not be underestimated as they won the Slovenian league. Slovenia are 36th in the coefficient table, so is a must win as they are well below Scotland.
Hearts unarguably have the toughest of the draws as they were an unseeded team. They have Tottenham Hotspur who need no introduction. A team boasting some world class players and even rumours that they will play their reserves in the first leg doesn’t help as their team still have the edge on paper. England are first place in the coefficient table, so should Hearts pull off a surprise win, or even if they draw one leg and lose the other, it will gain Scotland some valuable points. Note that no points are taken away for losing so even a draw is a massive bonus for us.
In reality, a poor season in Europe could cost Scotland dearly and could drop as far as 30th in the rankings. This will not affect how many teams we have in Europe although we may have to play more qualifying rounds. On the other hand, a good season, with realistically two of our teams reaching the group stages and beyond, could win us two champions league places back depending on how Austrian & Swiss teams fare.
A point has came up often in the past which I would like to resolve. Some say that we will play against tougher teams if our ranking place falls. This is not the case. UEFA also have an individual club ranking system, so a top team from a mediocre league would still be seeded in a draw if they have a better coefficient than all the unseeded teams.
So in conclusion, it’s not all bad. Retaining two champions league places is a big ask as we will need to make up a lot of ground, although it is perfectly possible and realistic. If we cant get the champions league places back we can set good foundations and complete the job next season. After all, we are losing our points for the season Rangers reached the Europa League final, so we need a good season to compensate.