‘Celtic and Ajax are great names,’ Ajax chief executive, Edwin van der Sar

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AJAX’S win against Real Madrid would have been greeted with mixed feelings among the Celtic support to say the least. Given our recent history between Celtic and the Dutch giants, who have the nastiest bunch of supporters on the continent, few Celtic supporters have a soft spot for them.

However they did achieve a win against the Champions League holders in their own back yard, and in doing so provided the so-called smaller European nations with a morale boosting success over the big country cartel.

And this morning there’s news that Ajax and Celtic are working closely together behind the scenes to ensure that the smaller nations – which include former European Cup winners like Celtic, Ajax and plenty of others – are not left in the slow lane by the money grabbing bigger nations.

Peter Lawwell, The Celtic CEO and the Ajax chief executive, Edwin van der Sar have been working together to ensure that the big nations – England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France – do not run away with the European competitions and turn them into exclusive members only clubs for the big boys.

Edwin van der Sar is unhappy that the structure in European competition has made it incredibly tough for teams from outside Europe’s top five leagues to even get into the Champions League group stage.

“That is the difficulty for the smaller countries, and mid-sized countries. Celtic and Ajax are great names in history,” he said.

“They both have great followings, all over the world, not just in Holland and Scotland.

“They are historic clubs, they have both won the European Cup, but that is why it is difficult not to be involved. We see the Champions League running away a little bit.”

And van der Sar revealed that he has been working with The Celtic CEO to fight the case for the smaller nations.

“I have been talking to Peter Lawwell for some time. The ECA is talking to UEFA, trying to make sure there is more participation and more possibilities for clubs from medium and smaller-sized countries, so we can develop and play football at this level.

“Many of us are looking at a different way of how teams are set up and how the competition is set up. Maybe to look at the co-efficient of the club see at what the club has done in Europe, than only looking at the national co-efficient. And not just recent years.”

Celtic face FOUR qualifying rounds next season to reach the Champions League Group stages, assuming the league is won. Had we managed a draw in one of the games against Valencia that would have been reduced to three qualifiers.

Meanwhile Salzburg, who exited the Europa League last night 4-3 on aggregate to Napoli, will go straight into the Champions League Group stages – they are runaway leaders in the Austrian league and their Europa runs over the past two seasons has improved the Austrian co-efficient sufficiently to allow their Champions an automatic spot.

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