Earlier on this week, Walter Smith not only found himself having to defend his tactics against Man Utd at Old Trafford , claiming his team have had their hands tied from the Scottish game’s poor situation in the past ten years, but was also accused of being a hypocrite after many journalists claimed the difference between Man Utd and Rangers was no different from Rangers and the minnows of the SPL.
I have to show some sympathy for Walter here, he has every right to go and set his team up like he did on Tuesday night,to a great deal of success. The same way any team would come to Parkhead or Ibrox every week in the SPL
The comparison made by some journalists that Walter is bitter about finances for the same reason Jim Jeffries would be towards the Old Firm, is ridiculous. The difference between Utd and Rangers is a team in a league allowed to grow and a team trying their hardest to hold on to some form of foundations for the future, the difference between Rangers and Hearts is simply that Rangers are better at Hearts on a very even playing field. Walter Smith isn’t being hypocritical, hes trying to point out that there is an underlying problem in European football that the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and teams like Celtic and Rangers are unfortunately part of the later, and their domestic leagues are getting terribly effected by it.
Celtic and Rangers, being the two big fish that they are, find themselves in an ever shrinking pond, receding to the fact that they know have to put their differences aside and deal with the international threat of never being able to compete on the European stage again because of the lack of money reaching the smaller leagues.
Walter had this to say;
Somebody, somewhere has got to do something to allow Scottish clubs, or clubs in smaller countries to gain a level of finance that’s going to allow them to compete.
All this news comes off the back of more bad news that Scotland are at risk of loosing one of their two Champions league spots due to the lack of coefficients over the past 5 years. 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.
The current set-up puts the smaller leagues head to head with each other, literally fighting for the lives of their leagues as each of them trys to win vital European qualification spots from the other and some form of revenue stream from UEFA. Where Platini may of had a vision of a Champions League where every nation was fairly represented, we now have a situation where the richest clubs in the top 4 nations have too many spots and sit comfortably at the top of the pyramid, while the rest of Europe has to fight with each other for the scraps of the TV & sponsorship deals, at the end of the table.
Nothing will come of this, at least in the foreseeable future, this was nothing more than Walter Smith taking a moment to point out his concerns and plea’s for his countries sport when the world was watching.
Maybe one day we’ll have someone at the head of UEFA from somewhere besides France or Italy and can see past the shiny Premier League teams, or the romantic Milan sides, to the real places around Europe that need work. Before these leagues and clubs are gone.