Champions League blow for Scots

Scotland will lose one of their two Champions League places from

the season after next, the Scottish Premier League confirmed on

Friday.

Thursday night’s Europa League results for Belgian clubs saw

them overtake Scotland into 15th spot in UEFA’s co-efficient

ranking table.

A fall to 16th also means the 2010-11 SPL champions will not

qualify automatically for the following season’s Champions League

group stage.

They will instead have to navigate three qualifying rounds,

though all matches will be against champions from smaller European

nations rather than runners-up or third and fourth-placed sides

from larger countries.

But the loss of a Champions League spot is potentially a huge

blow to the Old Firm, who published their half-yearly accounts this

week in which the difference between reaching the group stage and

failing to do so was laid bare.

Next season will see both the SPL winners and runners-up in

the Champions League, with the runners-up facing two qualifying

rounds, the second of which could be against one of the giants of

the European game.

An SPL spokesman said: “Our clubs are sorted for next season.

It’s for the season after that that Belgium are now above us.”