Qualifying for the group stages of the Champions League would provide a major financial boost and improve Rangers’ reputation following a long period out of Europe’s elite club competition, but it would also have a big benefit for the club’s Academy.
Rangers U18s recently won the CAS league courtesy of a final day victory over St Mirren, ensuring that they have qualified for the UEFA Youth League for a third consecutive season.
As things stand, they will enter the domestic champions path, which is made up of the league winners from the 32 best-ranked associations in UEFA.
Clubs on this path will play knockout rounds before merging with the Champions League path later in the competition.
However, if the Rangers first-team successfully qualifies for the Champions League, then the young Gers’ Youth League campaign will begin on the Champions League path, where they will take part in a group stage with a fixture list that exactly mirrors that of the senior team.
“That is undoubtedly the best scenario for us all,” said Gers U18 coach David McCallum [Rangers.co.uk]. “It would be excellent, we would be travelling like the first team do and learning from them which is ultimately where our players want to get to.”
“That programme would ultimately be the best one to be in but we have got the back-up of the domestic pathway as well but fingers crossed we can go and enjoy that.”
Given that the 2020/21 UEFA Youth League was cancelled due to the pandemic, it’s important that Rangers get maximum value out of the competition next season.
Nathan Patterson and Kai Kennedy both featured the last time the Gers took part and fixtures against high-quality European opposition prepare players well for the challenges of first-team football.