The Champions League is now a bridge too far for Celtic

The Europa League is now our level, there, I’ve said it. It’s actually not hard to admit that we aren’t a Champions League side because the reality is we are far from it. But Celtic qualified on merit as the Champions of Scotland and we have a duty to at least try and compete.

We have taken just three points from 10 games – that’s three from thirty points we have played for in the Champions League this season and last. If we can take six from six in the last two games – and Atletico Madrid win their two remaining matches, we could actually qualify but that is wishful thinking when you consider that points total over the two campaigns.

Celtic don’t have the resources of the elite and even some of the so-called lesser sides are better equipped than us, that’s down to the lack of investment from our board and unless that changes we will continue to be European also rans.

There are some sides making a better fist of it than Celtic but the general rule still applies, outside the elite, super-rich clubs from the top leagues, the rest are nothing but cannon-fodder in the Champions League.

The Europa League is admittedly our level but it’s tricky to get there as we seem to keep winning the league and long may that continue. Over the road, theRangers showed last night that the top teams in Scottish football can still compete at Europa League level.

 Alistair Johnston and Greg Taylor of Celtic look dejected after the team’s defeat in the UEFA Champions League match between Atletico Madrid and Celtic FC at Civitas Metropolitano Stadium on November 07, 2023 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

They also proved the point last season that Champions League football is beyond the Scottish game, with the only things they picked up were six humiliating defeats – including a 7-1 hammering at home to Liverpool – and the all-time record as the worst performing side ever in the Champions League.

Their fans had a cheek to laugh at Celtic earlier this week after the latest heavy defeat in Madrid.

The Europa League group that they are in is one we would qualify from comfortably, I can say that for sure. Instead we still have a slim chance of finishing second or third, but in reality we will finish bottom and we can have no complaints about that, judging by what we’ve endured so far.

Brendan Rodgers claps at the end of the UEFA Champions League group E football match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Celtic at the Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on November 7, 2023. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images)

If we win the league this season we could qualify for the new revamped Champions League. If we want to at least compete in it, we need to re think our transfer strategy and we need to drastically re-think our squad structure.

We also need to recognise that the Celtic B team players are being failed by the structure of the impoverished Scottish game and that playing in the Lowland league is never going to develop a first team player. A creative alternative urgently needs to be found.

If it’s still the status quo we will just be setting ourself up for another year of cannon fodder hammerings. Football wise we’d actually be better off making a go of it in the Europa league, that’s the reality, but that door is unlikely to open unless we can pick up enough points to get off the bottom spot in the Champions League group stages.

On current evidence even that appears to be a bridge too far for Celtic.

Just an Ordinary Bhoy

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About Author

An ordinary everyday Celtic supporters hailing and still residing in Govan in the shadows of the enemy. I’m a season ticket holder. I Witnessed my first Celtic game in 1988 and have attended when I can ever since. Growing up in the 90s I witnessed Celtic at their lowest, and now appreciate the historic success we enjoy today. I enjoy writing about this wonderful football club and hopefully will continue to do so. I’ve always been a keen writer and initially started this a hobby. My ambition is to one day become as good an author as my fellow Celtic Star colleagues.


  1. Teams can’t afford to compete in a proper reserve league, but are happy to knock back thousands of paying customers, says it all really.
    Factor in the fact that the league and the rules operate to suit one team and games a bogey!.

  2. you only just figured that out? we’ve not been competitive in the CL for a decade and since Stein left the club the guts of 50 years ago we’ve had 5 decent showings in Europe (79/80, Seville, 06/07, 07/08 & 12/13). Shameful

  3. I agree with some of your points, but you should consider that Celtic (and Rangers for that matter) are poor in Europe because their players don’t practice enough. You can’t blame other Scottish teams for the Celtic players lack of ambition to continuously improve. If you can’t deliver a corner kick properly, then practice. If you are being outmuscled on the ball, get into the Gym. If somebody can run faster than you, then work on being quicker etc. It’s not difficult to make big improvements in performance simply by having a better mindset. Train for 8 hours a day, don’t go home at lunchtime.

  4. I think this is a realisation that has taken time to sink in for a lot of fans, and to say that more practice and a better mindset is the solution is laudable but it’s not going to come close to bridging the gap on a consistent and sustainable way. If only it was that easy.

    I’ve said before, that generally speaking, a Scottish team (inevitably Celtic or Rangers these days) have a decent European run roughly once a decade. That’s the most we can hope for and I suspect even that frequency will be challenging with the amount of finances swilling about the major leagues.

    It’s all too much. I hate watching Celtic struggling in Europe and every draw fills me with dread. There, I said it.