Celtic step closer to Champions League riches

Neil Lennon's admission this week that he might not be given any of the money from the impending sale of Ki Sung-Yueng was a stark reminder, if one were required, that even successful Scottish clubs are selling ones.

It places Tuesday night's victory in Sweden , which brings Champions League football to within touching distance for Lennon and his players, in perfect context.

Having been starved of the glamour of Champions League nights for the past three seasons, the Parkhead coffers have similarly been denied the riches those nights bring.

Champions League by numbers

  • Play-off - 2.1m euros
  • Group stage - 5.3m
  • Match bonus - 3.3m
  • Performance bonus - 1m (win), 0.5m (draw)
  • Market pool - 8-10m

While supporters will already be thinking about trips to some of Europe's most famous stadiums and seeing their team take on the cream of the continent at Celtic Park, the financial implications are also massive.

If Celtic finish the job of disposing of Helsingborgs, they stand to benefit to the tune of a minimum of 11m euros, before the allocation of the 'market pool', which could be worth almost the same again.

Add to that any revenue from on-field success, which this season will amount to 1m euros for a win and 500,000 euros for a draw, as well as gate money and other associated match-day revenue, and the importance of Champions League football becomes ever clearer.

Celtic's most recent financial figures showed a £7m debt, with fresh accounts due out soon.

Lennon's remarks regarding the Ki money suggest last summer's figures (£500,000 debt) may not be repeated, which is precisely why a place among Europe's elite means so much to chief executive Peter Lawwell and the rest of the Celtic board - especially given the hit taken by Scottish football as a result of Rangers' absence from the top flight.

The Celtic manager said on Wednesday, as he arrived back from Sweden, that adding to the squad was not a necessity, despite the imminent departure of Ki and the challenge of Champions League football.

But Tuesday's result gives him significantly more bargaining power if he feels the need to chap Lawwell's door, looking for transfer funds.

While all of this is music to the ears of Celtic supporters, in a league that is already perceived as being a foregone conclusion, the financial benefits accruing from Champions League success will serve to create even greater disparity between the haves (Celtic) and the have-nots (everyone else).

Not that that is Celtic's problem, but the reality is that the gap will continue to grow, both in financial and playing terms.