It’s a debate that has briefly united Rangers and Celtic supporters - and just about anyone else with a vested interest in Scottish football.

The nuances, however, have caused plenty of division. For what feels like an eternity, the focus of fans in this country has centred on whether or not Scotland has climbed to 15th place in UEFA coefficient’s rankings. 

Securing that ‘elusive’ spot would secure an extra place for a Scottish team in Champions League qualifying and would yield an additional berth for one extra club to compete in Europa League qualifying in the 2021/22 season.


National coefficients are based on the results of each association's clubs during the five previous UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League seasons. So while Scotland currently occupies 15th for the totals gained over the last five years - including this season - the amount gained from season 15/16 will be chalked off at the end of the campaign.  

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With countries such as Denmark and the Czech Republic losing a chunk of their overall coefficient with the removal of said season, Scotland looks set to be closing in on at least 15th place. 

However, with so much focus on getting to 15th, obtaining an extra Champions League qualification berth and getting an extra team into Europe, here’s why it could actually hinder Scotland in future attempts to secure an automatic qualification spot in the future. 

Clubs gain points for winning in qualification and other phases of the competition with one point for a qualification win and 0.5 points for a qualification draw. In the group stages, clubs get two for a group win, one point for a draw and 0 for a loss. 


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This number is then divided by the number of clubs in qualification, so in Scotland’s case, four. 

Therefore, if we take the last Europa League stage, Celtic’s win against Rennes added .500 to the total with Rangers adding .250 following the away draw in Rotterdam. 

The .750 points gained by Scottish clubs saw the 2019-20 total rise to a whopping 8.250 coefficient points, a record high in the last five years. Indeed, if you look at the coefficient in the last few years it is fair to say that Scotland is on an upward trajectory. 

In 2015-16 Scotland had a meagre 3.000, followed by 4.375 in 16-17, and 4.000 in 17-18. Things began to improve last year with 6.750 points gained. 

However, adding to your coefficient becomes a trickier task if more clubs are involved but do not qualify. It’s the football equivalent of too many chefs. 

Take the coefficient points gained this season and apply it to Scotland having an extra team which they would do if they finished 15th. Currently, if a Scottish team wins in the group stages of the Europa League it is worth 0.500 points, but with 5 teams in Europe, such wins would only be worth 0.400. 

This is because the total sum earned by a country is divided by the number of teams that compete in Europe from the country, so take this season, for example, Scottish sides have earned 33,000 resulting in a coefficient of 8.250 (33,000/4) but with a fifth team in Europe, this would become 6,600. 

While this is still an impressive tally and it is fantastic to rise the rankings and get another European berth, as Scotland’s rankings increase, so do the stakes. In order to keep climbing the coefficient rankings and reach an automatic qualification spot, Scottish clubs will need to go above and beyond season after season.