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Pull the plug on poor relation

MICHEL Platini said last week that Uefa were discussing expanding the Champions League and getting rid of the Europa League from 2015 onwards and I definitely think that's a good idea.

It is the place to be in terms of ticket revenue and broadcasting rights while the Europa League is dying a death, with crowds often poor. I wonder if the discussions are on the back of what Peter Lawwell said a fortnight ago about Uefa changing their attitude to cross-border leagues, but they might be better advised to regionalise the Champions League in the early stages, rather than keeping the Champions League and introducing a regional league on top of it.

The biggest problem with the Europa League is that they introduced an idea which the fans didn't really go for. With the new format up to the top five teams in Scotland and the top seven in England would enter the qualifying competition. Although this might mean the Scottish champions always get in, my worry would be that it might diminish the status of the Champions League.

When I played in the competition with Rangers, every team we came up against – Galatasaray, Sturm Graz and Monaco – were champions of their domestic league and that was why I loved playing in it.

I'm not convinced the biggest clubs would want to go for the new format. Would they want to split the cake 64 ways rather than 32? There are plenty of pros and cons but ultimately you can't leave the Europa League the way it is.

It is a bit like what Terry Butcher thinks about the SPL. Yes, he likes it and, yes, it is good the way it is but it could be even better with play-offs.

I have said before that I think Celtic will beat Spartak Moscow at Parkhead on Wednesday night to reach the last 16 of this season's Champions League and I haven't changed my opinion. Spartak are in a bit of disarray – people want away and the fans are not happy – and Russian teams don't tend to travel well at the best of times. Long may that continue.

People might not expect a former Rangers player to say this, but Neil Lennon's side qualifying for the knockout stages would be the pick-up this country needs after all the negatives about Scottish football in the last few years.

However, you might argue Spartak could be dangerous because there is no pressure on them as they are out of the running for qualification. A lot of people think Celtic are a certainty to go through, but teams are in the Champions League for a reason.

The home support will have to be patient, but you won't have to tell Celtic fans to make it a great atmosphere. It will be nervy but I fancy them to complete the job. If they can use the atmosphere as a positive I could see them winning something like 2-0. I also think Barcelona will beat Benfica, which could help Celtic.

They are going through a stage just now where they are doing so well in the Champions League and just about getting by in the SPL. Some will question the players' professionalism against the so-called smaller teams, but Celtic are still top of the table.

The so-called bigger games are the ones they really need to switch on for because they know they could get beaten if they don't turn up to play. I still say they will win the SPL by 20 points, though.

As for the incident between Neil Lennon and some of the fans, we all handle things in different ways. Some are cool and calm, some fight fire with fire.

You are never going to change him and, for me, what we saw last week was just Neil's passion for his job. He has been the way he is all through his career, and I don't blame him for the way he reacted either. If he had just switched off from it, people would have said he just doesn't care enough.

As a manager, you have to switch off from the vast majority of what fans say and keep your focus, but I had run-ins with fans when I was a No.2 at Dundee United.

I defended myself and told them what I was thinking. You could be the calmest man in the world but if some fans cross the line you are entitled to give it back, as long as you don't overstep the mark.

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