Old Firm set for Champions League boost

Last updated at 12:49 02 June 2005


Rangers and Celtic are set to be seeded in the final qualifying round of next season's Champions League

As Bank of Scotland Premier League champions, Rangers go straight into the third round draw, which will be made on July 29.

And runners-up Celtic are likely to be there too should they overcome their second round opponents, whose identity will become apparent on June 24.

Both Old Firm rivals would be seeded in the third round draw, which means they would avoid being paired with the likes of Manchester Utd, Inter Milan, Ajax and Monaco.

Werder Bremen, Panathinaikos, Sporting Lisbon, Villarreal, Rosenborg, Slavia Prague and Club Brugge are also confirmed seeds.

But a Battle of Britain is a possibility as Everton, the fourth placed English side in the season just competed, are not seeded.

Other potential barriers to a place in the lucrative group phase are Real Betis, FC Basel, Wisla Krakow and Udinese.

Shakhtar Donetsk, Hajduk Split, Partizan Belgrade, Maccabi Haifa, Rapid Vienna, Valerenga, CSKA Sofia, Debrecen, Trabzonspor and the champions of Denmark or Romania are all potential opposition should they advance past the second round.

Old Firm chequered Champions League history

Celtic benefited from an automatic entry into the group stage last season but that has now gone.

Previously, the Hoops had been pipped at the final qualifying stage by FC Basle, before going on to have more success in the UEFA Cup in 2002-2003.

Rangers have negotiated the final hurdle on a number of occasions, the most recent of which was at the start of the 2003-04 campaign.

A late strike from Shota Arveladze defeated Danish outfit FC Copenhagen at the Parken Stadium, a goal that was estimated to be worth £10million when television revenue, ticket sales and merchandising is taken into account into account.

Rangers have competed in the group stage on six occasions compared to Celtic's three.

Rangers' first appearance was during Walter Smith's tenure back in 1992-1993 when the tournament was initially revamped.

They came within a whisker of reaching the final that season but have subsequently slipped down the UEFA rankings, below Celtic.

Rangers are now likely to be in Pot 4 should they progress to the draw for the group stage, while Celtic would be in Pot 2.

Pot 1 includes Real Madrid, AC Milan and

Barcelona while Pot 2 is home to Chelsea, Juventus and Lyon while Pot 3 boasts Olympiakos, Schalke 04 and Lille.

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