Italian superstar Andrea Pirlo was asked recently what he thought of the Scottish champions having to go through so many qualifiers to get to the group stages of the competition. The midfielder did not mince his words.

“It’s an insult Celtic have to enter the qualifiers this early on – It’s an insult to the history of the club and all they have achieved in Europe recently”

Neil Lennon last week spoke of the disappointment of having to negotiate through these qualifiers 5 months after they competed in the last 16 of the competition against Pirlo’s Juventus.

Lennon said: ‘Am I baffled that a club that reached the last 16 has to play these qualifiers? Yes. I think it has to be looked at. I don’t think it’s fair considering the season we had and the amount of games we played.”

Pirlo and Hooper during last 16 tie in February.

The coefficient rules at present ensure a tougher route to the Champions League for any team that wins the SPL which Pirlo again disagrees with –

“As champions they should not need to qualify, it is not fitting for a club of their size.”

However with no plans for Uefa to change the system any time soon, Celtic will have to get used to early starts to the season.





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