Celtic: Why loss to Cluj could be bad news for Rangers

Last updated at 12:58
Neil LennonSNS Group Craig Williamson

Celtic crashed out of the Champions League on Tuesday night losing at home to CFR Cluj.

The Scottish champions lost 4-3 on the night and 5-4 on aggregate, despite leading twice against the Romanians.

Goals against

With 11 minutes left at Celtic Park, the hosts were just two more matches away from the Champions League group stages. Then it all became a bit of a horror show.

Cluj scored a third goal to put themselves in front on away goals, then a fourth in stoppage time. Ouch!

The result is only the third time Celtic has conceded four or more goals at home in European competition.

There's a greater cost

There could be a bigger cost other than dented pride for Celtic fans.

Lots of ifs, buts and maybes, but had the Hoops held on, and won their play-off match to reach the Champions League group stage, Celtic would have been guaranteed €15.25 million (£14.13 million).

That would pay a lot of player wages...

Instead, if they get past the Europa League play-offs, they'll earn much less. Just €2.92 million (£2.71 million). But even that isn't guaranteed.

Celtic also failed to reach the Champions League group stages last season.

Kristoffer Ajer of Celtic reacts at full time.Getty Images
Celtic players will have another chance at qualifying for European competition in the Europa League
Will they even qualify for the Europa league?

If you weren't paying attention, Celtic now enter the Europa League play-off round, but could face a tough test.

AIK or Sheriff will take on Celtic for a place in the group stage of the competition - with AIK already up 2-1 from their first leg with Sheriff.

If AIK make it through to play Celtic, they're arguably a tougher team than Cluj. The Swedes are flying high in their league, only a point off the top more than halfway through their season.

While Champions League football has gone, if Celtic don't sort themselves out, they could be out of Europe altogether before the end of the month.

Why this is bad for Rangers

You'd think that Celtic's arch-rivals Rangers would be enjoying the Hoops recent failure, but that's not necessarily the case.

Firstly, it might mean Celtic decide to focus more on the Scottish Premiership, but as well as that, it could affect the Uefa ranking of ALL Scottish teams. Those rankings affect the way Uefa gives places for teams to qualify to play Europe.

The better teams do in European competition, the more ranking coefficient points they earn. What do points make? European qualifying places!

Now a lot depends on how Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen perform in the Europa League.

Bringing in players

The transfer window is still in full swing in Scotland.

Celtic are on the lookout for a few new defenders - especially after Kieran Tierney left to go to Arsenal.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon spoke about needing to sell before bringing more players in, but without the possibility of Champions League football and the money it brings in, it's going to be much harder for Lennon to improve the squad.

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We shot ourselves in the foot - Lennon
Oh captain, my captain?

Not only is Neil Lennon looking for a new defender, maybe he could do with a new captain.

Celtic captain Scott Brown has apologised after he liked a tweet criticising his manager's tactical decisions during the defeat to Cluj.

Lennon came under fire from some sections of the home support for dropping £3 million signing Boli Bolingoli and instead opting for midfielder Callum McGregor at left-back.

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