EVERY Scottish football fan loves seeing their team do well in Europe.

Followers of Rangers certainly rejoiced last season as the Ibrox club made it through four qualifying rounds and then turned out in large numbers as Steven Gerrard’s men performed superbly in the Europa League group stages against Rapid Vienna, Spartak Moscow and Villarreal.

Celtic supporters, meanwhile, took their failure to reach the Champions League for the third year running in the 2018/19 campaign in their stride and revelled in Europa League triumphs over Rosenborg and RB Leipzig, as well as their rather fortuitous progress to the knockout rounds.

Both fanbases will be hoping for more of the same in the months ahead. After all, there is nothing quite like watching your boys test themselves against foreign opposition at home or in different surroundings abroad.

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Even games against glamorous and lavishly-assembled adversaries like Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain have, despite the slim chances of getting a result, their attractions. They offer a refreshing break from the routine of the domestic game.

Yet, in this country, watching your greatest rivals suffer humiliating losses and costly exits on the continent brings just as much, if not more, joy to many.

Oh, how Rangers fans laughed as Celtic slumped to that excruciating 1-0 defeat to part-time Gibraltarian minnows Lincoln Red Imps in Brendan Rodgers’ first competitive match in charge back in 2016.

Safe passage to the Champions League group stages may ultimately have been secured, but there is a strong argument to be made that the loss is the Parkhead club’s worst European result in their history.

The shoe was on the other foot 12 months later, however, as Rangers slumped to a 2-0 reverse to those behemoths of Luxembourgian football Progres Niederkorn and crashed out of the Europa League in the first qualifying round. Seeing their hapless manager Pedro Caixinha jump into the shrubbery outside the stadium to remonstrate with incensed fans simply added to the absurdity of it all. It was, if you were a Celtic man, comedy gold.

The enmity between the two main Glasgow clubs is such that you can be sure the green-and-white half of the city will be tuning in with interest as Gerrard’s charges take on St Joseph’s in the first leg of their Europa League first qualifying round at the Victoria Stadium in Gibraltar tomorrow afternoon and hoping to see them slip up.

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The red, white and blue hordes, too, will be keeping their fingers crossed later as Neil Lennon’s men take on Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina in their opening Champions League outing of the new season in the Asim Ferhatovi Hase Stadium.

Anyone, though, who really cares about Scottish football should be praying that both Celtic and Rangers – not to mention Aberdeen and Kilmarnock, who take on RoPS of Finland and Connah’s Quay Nomads of Wales respectively in the Europa League on Thursday – go through and enjoy successful campaigns.

Doing so will help to improve the nation’s UEFA coefficient which is calculated by adding up the points from the five most recent seasons and which determines how many Champions League and Europa League places are available to clubs from a country, and how many qualifying rounds they have to play.

Scotland were placed as high as 10th back in 2005 and only had two matches to get through to take their place among Europe’s elite in the Champions League group stages; that season, Rangers duly defeated Anorthosis Famagusta of Cyprus 4-1 on aggregate and went on to become the first club from this country to reach the knockout rounds since the tournament was rebranded as the Champions League.

The following season Celtic went straight into the competition proper and, after wins over Manchester United, Copenhagen and Benfica, reached the last 16 to face a star-studded AC Milan side featuring the likes of Kaka and Clarence Seedorf, where they were edged out in extra-time by the competition’s eventual victors.

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But by last year Scotland had slipped to 26th in the coefficient table, meaning that both the Ibrox and Parkhead clubs had to play no fewer than eight games. Rangers reaching the group stages of a European competition for the first time in seven years and Celtic going one better saw the country rise six places to 20th, their highest position in 11 years.

Moving up to 15th in the months ahead will see another Ladbrokes Premiership club receive a Champions League qualifying place next season. So Rangers could benefit from Celtic doing well, or vice-versa, in the long run.

The changing financial landscape of football due to the vast sums that clubs in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain bank from the sale of broadcasting rights make it improbable that Aberdeen, Celtic or Rangers – all clubs with proud European records – will even reach the latter stages of the Europa League or Champions League, never mind win one of them.

But having fewer qualifying rounds to get through and more clubs in the group stages will give the club game in this country a much-needed lift, enhance its reputation, make it easier to attract both players and sponsors and has a positive knock-on effect for all.

Each top-flight club will benefit from UEFA solidarity payments if their representatives reach the group stages of their respective tournaments. Last year they banked a cool £4 million, £370,000 each, courtesy of Celtic making it into the Champions League group stages the previous season. Everyone, then, is winner if the Scottish clubs acquit themselves well.