Rangers are on course to land a stunning £40million-plus jackpot after their remarkable Europa League win against Royal Antwerp on Thursday night.
The Light Blues’ 4-3 triumph in the away leg of the last-32 epic gives them a a great chance to reach the last-16 of the competition for the second consecutive campaign.
It also had the potentially huge spin-off effect of maintaining Scotland’s hold on 11th place in the Uefa coefficient ranking and an automatic place in the Champions League group stage.
Ukraine cuts the gap to Scotland in the race for a possible automatic place in the 2022-23 Champions League group stage by 0.100 points.
11. Scotland 32.625
12. Ukraine 32.300
With Shakhtar well placed to go through, Rangers must complete the job too.
— Dale Johnson (@DaleJohnsonESPN) February 18, 2021
As reported by ESPN FC editor Dale Johnson on his personal Twitter account, Scotland is still above Ukraine to secure the last position that could earn a direct place in the Champions League for the domestic champions.
It would mean avoiding the pitfalls of the qualification stage that has tripped up Celtic in recent times.
But Rangers must win the tie against Antwerp – the second leg is at Ibrox next week – to secure the final spot for Scotland in 2022-23.
Steven Gerrard’s side are almost certain to reach the Champions League qualification stage for next season as they close in on a 55th league title.
Rangers are 15 points clear at the Scottish Premiership summit and are unbeaten in this season’s league.
A massive hurdle to climbing aboard the group stage gravy train for next season’s winner is also close to being removed.
Celtic have failed to reach that point of the Champions League in the last three seasons and had to drop down to the Europa League before Christmas.
The last time the Scottish champions played in the group stages of Europe’s elite competition – in Brendan Rodgers’ second season in charge – they earned £32m from Uefa alone.
But there is even more cash to be had for clubs from the lucrative competition.
Football Insider columnist and football finance expert Kieran Maguire revealed a place in the Champions League group stage is worth at least £40m including matchday revenues and spin-off commercial and merchandise benefits.
Rangers’ most recently-published financial results demonstrated the value of European competition, with the Europa League bringing in £20.7million last season from all sources including gate receipts last season.
For the year ending 30 June 2020, Rangers confirmed that revenue had increased from the previous year to £59million but they posted a loss of £15.9m.