With the draw for the one legged play offs now made both Celtic and Rangers face up to a dilemma about the financial benefits of a win through to the group stage and the impact of a loss and failure to qualify.
For both Celtic and the Rangers, the financial benefit of qualifying for the group stages is very significant, let no one kid you otherwise. It may not bring the riches of the Champions League and it may be restricted this year with limited match day income, but it will help add some stability.
For Rangers it may be extra critical to win through, their finances, despite media fanfares, are likely to be highly stretched and some decisions to spend may have been taken on the basis that European income will follow. Never mind the fanfare, if they fail to get through many will expect to hear emergency klaxons.
It’s also the case that playing in Europe also helps attract better players and of course the different games and pressure of playing in the competition all help develop players further. A track record of qualifying helps attract better signings at future transfer windows.
And finally the coefficient. Improving this for Scottish clubs is significant for future years in terms of the number of clubs Scottish football can place into Champions League qualifying, the rounds they enter at and the pots and seeding for draws. A win and qualifying has many longer term impacts.
A win in the play off round is critical to both clubs. Anything said differently is about managing a negative situation positively. Let’s focus on the league or domestic trophies is the usual consoling phrase when qualifying falls flat on its face.
In this season of all seasons a focus on the league could be critical. The chance to rest between games rather than travel to far and distant places for more matches could make a difference. No-one really wants to choose between 10-in-a-row and Europa League success, but the questions will be around for a while yet. For Rangers there are signs that even this early in the season injuries may take their toll. More games won’t help that predicament.
For Celtic, a win and to qualify is needed for the longer term status, growth and development as a club.
For Celtic fans thinking about Rangers, seeing them losing is always fun and delivers local bragging rights, it may also be quite explosive this time financially. If they win, take it well, lie back and think of the coefficient and all the extra games adding to the seasons strain.