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Lawwell: Europa League growth could help domestic game

The Celtic chief executive believes changes are coming to the European competition.

Voice: Lawwell (right) is on the board of the ECA.
Voice: Lawwell (right) is on the board of the ECA. SNS Group

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell says change is coming to the Europa League and it could improve the level of competition in Scotland.

Lawwell has seen Celtic qualify for the group stage of the Champions League for two seasons running and has a say in the shape of European competition through his place on the executive board of the European Club Association.

Some changes are being made to the elite competition from 2018 and while the Scottish champions will still have a path to the group stages, qualification could become more difficult.

Speaking at the club's annual general meeting, Lawwell said changes to the Europa League were also likely and they could have a benefit in Scottish teams enjoying more prolonged involvement.

He suggested the knock-on effect from that would be greater competition in Scottish domestic football.

"European football will change, that's for sure," he said.

"You may find the Champions League doesn't change significantly over the next two cycles, which is good news for us because the champions route will be maintained.

"It's going to be slightly more difficult but it's still there, which is very, very positive.

"What might be changing is the Europa League. I think they are looking in the shorter term, ways of expanding the Europa League, and that would be great for Scottish football as well as Celtic."

'We know we are limited here in Scotland financially and the way forward for Celtic and Scottish clubs is to perform more in Europe.'
Peter Lawwell

He added: "We know we are limited here in Scotland financially and the way forward for Celtic and Scottish clubs is to perform more in Europe and have more of our games played in Europe.

"So if we can get more Scottish clubs in European competition then that would be great because the finance that brings in is new and that should hopefully help the competitive balance here in Scotland."

Change to European competition in recent years has been driven by the biggest clubs and leagues on the continent.

Lawwell said Celtic's presence in the Champions League was important to ensure that their views are heard and respected.

"It's vital we are there, it's vital for Celtic and Scotland," he said. "There will be change but the positive thing is we have a voice.

"We are at senior level and hopefully that will stand us in good stead for any change."

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