£5m at stake for Celtic in Europe showdown

GRABBING one of the final three places still available in the last 16 of the Champions League is the big reward on offer to Celtic tonight when they face Spartak Moscow.

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Atta Bhoy...Georgios Samaras has been Celtic's talisman during this season's Champions League adventure
Atta Bhoy...Georgios Samaras has been Celtic's talisman during this season's Champions League adventure

But it is by no means all that is on the line.

If the Parkhead club can get the result they need to beat Benfica to the second qualifying place from Group G – Barcelona have already booked the other – they can land a huge £5million bonus AND significantly enhance their chances of gaining better Champions League draws in future.

A cool £2,916,000 Uefa qualification bonus will flood into Celtic's coffers as their reward for reaching the knockout stages, the draw for which is a fortnight tomorrow.

Celtic would play the first leg of that tie at home, and another mega payday in excess of £2m would come their way through the turnstiles, plus even more income from merchandising, catering and hospitality.

A win tonight will also add £833,333 to the £2,166,666 already banked for collecting seven points from wins over Sporting in Moscow, Barca at Parkhead and drawing with Benfica.

Added to their bonus for negotiating the qualifying rounds, participation fee for the Group Stage, match fee for the six games in Group G, and share of TV revenue, that will hoist Celtic's income from the competition to over £21m – a record for any European season for the club and a 40 per cent turnover boost.

As runners up to Barcelona in Group G, Celtic would be paired with one of seven other group winners (Uefa rules do not permit teams from the same group to meet again in the first knockout round).

The teams already assured of top spots in their groups are Manchester United, Malaga, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke and Paris St Germain.

But the benefits would not be confined to the club's bank account.

The co-efficient points earned from qualifying and from results at the group stage would be further boosted by a bonus of five points for reaching the knockout rounds.

This would be well timed, given that Celtic have been falling down the rankings based on their performances over the previous five years.

With the 2007-08 season, in which they last qualified for the knockout stage, about to fall off their total, a healthy co-efficient this term will halt that slide and help them to retain seeding status in future Champions League qualifying rounds.

Even if they do not better Benfica's result tonight, Celtic have already secured third place in Group G and a place in the last 32 of the Europa League.

But while that gives the chance to add even more co-efficient points, the cash rewards are significantly less than they can enjoy in the Champions League.

For parachuting down to the Europa League Last 32, Celtic would receive a bonus of just £166,666.

So the incentive is there, on so many different levels, for Lennon's Bhoys to remain in the premier competition.


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