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7th Jun, 2018 | 1:04pm

Barry Hearn warns Celtic they must reach the CL group stages or face the consequences

Sports supremo Barry Hearn has warned Celtic that they can’t afford to miss out on the Champions League group stages.

The former Leyton Orient chairman turned darts and snooker boss believes the Hoops would face dire consequences if they missed out on the increased group stage riches.

The prize money for reaching the group stage could reach a figure of around £37million for the Hoops after UEFA announced a 50% increase in Champions League prize money.

“The potential Champions League riches on offer for the clubs at the top like Celtic are colossal” Hearn said, as quoted by the Daily Record.

“The question they’ll be asking themselves though is what happens if they don’t reach the group stage?

“It is vital this season, more than ever, for Celtic to get into the Champions League group phase or it is disaster time.”

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The Hoops begin their four rounds of Champions League qualifiers in July.

Football Insider verdict

Celtic don’t need the words of Barry Hearn to realise how important it is to the club that they reach the Champions League group stages each season. This forthcoming season is perhaps the most important campaign of them all, as the Hoops could stretch even further ahead of the rest of Scottish football with the riches that are on offer. Hearn is correct in one respect though, that failure to qualify for the group stages would be disastrous for the Scottish champions, from both a financial and footballing side. You would have to imagine that if the Hoops fail to qualify at least one big name player would leave the club in an attempt to recoup the money that they would miss out on from not making the group stages. This season looks like being one of the biggest for many years for the Hoops, and it is set to be defined even more than ever by the Champions League qualifiers.

In other Celtic news, a released Hoops player does not regret joining the club

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