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Scotland in coefficient battle with Czech Republic for Champions League spot after Rangers’ Europa League exit

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Following Rangers’ exit from the Europa League after a last-16 defeat to Benfica, Scotland have no representatives left in European competition.

While this season’s Scottish Premiership winner is guaranteed a Champions League group-stage spot and big prize money – at least £30m – that could change from next season.

The situation has arisen because Scotland are now at risk of dropping down the UEFA coefficient rankings.

The coefficient formula factors each association’s performances in the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League over the past five seasons – including the current campaign.

Before Rangers’ defeat to Benfica, Celtic were knocked out of the Champions League and Aberdeen were eliminated from the Europa Conference League, while Hearts and Hibernian lost out in their qualifiers.

Coefficient points

Standard points for CL, EL & ECL
Win: 2pts
Draw: 1pt
*Points are halved in qualifying rounds
Bonus points
Champions League
Group stage participation: 4pts
R16: 5pts
QF, SF & final: 1pt
Europa League
Group winners: 4pts
Group runners-up: 2pts
R16, QF, SF & final: 1pt
Europa Conference League
Group winners: 2pts
Group runners-up: 1pt
SF & final: 1pt
The number of points awarded each season is divided by the number of teams that participated for that association in that season and rounded to three decimal places.

Liechtenstein

Rankings exclude Liechtenstein, who are awarded only one ECL place (winners of the Liechtenstein Cup) because the country does not organise a national league competition and all its seven clubs compete in the Swiss league system. As a result, teams ranked below Liechtenstein would rise one place in these allocation rankings.

The final season rankings always apply to competition allocations for the season after next, so the final coefficient rankings this term will determine allocations for the competitions to start in 2025/26.

There are plenty of permutations and a potential safety net for one club – so how does it all work out?

What does Rangers’ exit mean for Scotland’s coefficient?

Scotland are currently in a battle for the 10th and final UEFA coefficient ranking spot which guarantees next season’s league winner an automatic Champions League spot.

However, with no clubs left in European competition, they are at risk of being overtaken by the Czech Republic who are still represented by Viktoria Plzen in the Conference League. A draw in either leg of their quarter-final against Fiorentina would see Scotland drop to 11th in the standings.

What would that mean? Well, there will be no automatic Champions League football for next season’s Premiership winner.

Instead, they would face one qualification round, and the club that finishes second would need to battle through three qualifiers to reach the group stage.

Safety net for Rangers?

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Philippe Clement reacted to Rangers’ Europa League elimination to Benfica and said everyone associated with the club should be proud

There is one caveat to that, however. Even if Scotland do drop to 11th in the rankings, should Rangers win the league next season, then it is likely they could still secure group-stage Champions League football due to the club’s own coefficient ranking.

It would rely on the winner of the Champions League qualifying for the next season’s tournament through their league position – but were that to happen, Rangers would secure an extra spot under the new tournament format due to being the highest-ranked champion in qualifying.

CL group stages

Only countries ranking 1-10 gain automatic entry to the CL group stages .

Rangers’ impressive involvement in recent seasons – which included a run to the Europa League final in 2022 – means the club are 25th in the rankings. However, if Celtic were to win the league next season, they would not benefit from this safety net, as they are much further down in the UEFA rankings which is based on results over the past five seasons.

It gets a lot tougher after that…

Scotland are currently propping up the top 10 due to their impressive 2019/20 results, which generated 9.75 points after the Old Firm progressed into the Europa League knockout stages. However, that season will be wiped from the equation at the end of this campaign.

As it stands, Scotland will start next season in 16th spot, meaning only one Scottish club would be able to take part in the Champions League for the 2026/27 campaign. They would enter at the second qualifying round, instead of earning an automatic group-stage spot and qualifying spot.

One Scottish side would qualify for the Europa League, entering at the first qualifying round (currently one team enters the playoff and another the second qualifying round).

Two Scottish teams would qualify for the Europa Conference League, both entering at the second qualifying round.

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