Celtic Must Not Support A Corrupt, Closed Shop, Champions League … Even If We’re In It.

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Andrea Agnelli is in the Scottish papers again this morning, touting his latest proposals for Champions League “reform.”

He’s talking about a “pyramid system” this time, although he won’t fully explain what that means.

The Record seems to think it’s good news.

Agnelli is the author of the Champions League plan which the European Leagues Association has just roundly rejected and said they won’t support. But he is not going to let go of the idea; indeed, he seems to be doubling down on it.

What makes today different, is that he’s attempted to invoke Celtic and Ajax, dragooning them into his argument with apparent promises that the status of the two clubs as European sides with pedigree and history, will be taken into account.

Let’s clear a couple of things up here.

Celtic’s status as a European club should be taken into account.

As a previous winner we should get a permanent co-efficient bump.

The idea that we should be dragged down by the national co-efficient, which puts our fate in the hands of a Scotland side which is hopeless, and club sides who can barely get past the fourth team in Wales, is just plain wrong.

And no, we shouldn’t have to navigate four rounds of qualifiers.

It’s ridiculous.

The Champions League could easily grow to where we wouldn’t have to, or – and this is a novel idea – ditch this corruption of having as many as four teams from certain countries in it to make way for actual national title holders.

Any reforms along those lines would be more than welcome.

But Celtic should be opposed – in every way – to any effort to turn UEFA’s premier competition into a closed shop … even if that arrangement benefits us.

I don’t want Celtic to automatically gain access because of our “history” and because we have a big stadium and a huge global fan-base. Any proposal which junks qualification via the national leagues should be condemned as a corrupt stitch-up even if we’re one of the beneficiaries of it.

Anything that resembles an “invites only” tournament will have no legitimacy.

One of the things that the Scottish press fundamentally misunderstands here about fans and how we view the game – and I hope that this attitude does not reflect thinking inside Celtic Park – is that all we care about is that the game is fair, that the way it works is fair, that we all start on a level playing field.

Some teams are bigger; some teams are better … that’s the reality of sport as a meritocracy.

As long as the rules work then fans are generally happy.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the UEFA co-efficient system itself. It’s a more complicated version of seeding arrangements for major cup competitions; the layperson can understand that, and can support it. There are elements of it which need to be re-thought; all the current variant does is protect the same leagues and the same teams … but the idea of the co-efficient itself is fair and equitable and something most people support.

European football is heading in one of two directions; it either democratises, and protects the integrity of its competitions or it turns away from that entirely.

Celtic must be in there fighting for what’s right, not participating in the next great scandal.

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