Scotland will lose one of their two Champions League places from the season after next, the Scottish Premier League confirmed today.
Last night’s Europa League results for Belgian clubs saw them overtake Scotland into 15th spot in UEFA’s co-efficient ranking table.
A fall to 16th also means the 2010-11 SPL champions will not qualify automatically for the following season’s Champions League group stage.
They will instead have to navigate three qualifying rounds, though all matches will be against champions from smaller European nations rather than runners-up or third- and fourth-placed sides from larger countries.
But the loss of a Champions League spot is potentially a huge blow to the Old Firm, who published their half-yearly accounts this week in which the difference between reaching the group stage and failing to do so was laid bare.
Next season will see both the SPL winners and runners-up in the Champions League, with the runners-up facing two qualifying rounds, the second of which could be against one of the giants of the European game.
An SPL spokesman told Press Association Sport: “Our clubs are sorted for next season. It’s for the season after that that Belgium are now above us.”