PHILIPPE Clement has defended the standard of Scottish football and insisted that both Rangers and Celtic would be capable of challenging for the Ligue 1 title if they played in France.

Former Ross County manager Derek Adams caused an outcry back in December when he claimed that Morecambe, the English League Two outfit he had previously been in charge of, were “100 times better” than the Dingwall club.

Adams also stated, in an outburst immediately after a cinch Premiership defeat at home to Dundee which he later apologised for, the level of play in the top flight was “shocking”, “rubbish” and “so poor”.

However, Clement, whose team will leapfrog Brendan Rodgers’ side into top spot in the league table this evening if they beat County by three goals in their game in hand at Ibrox, disagrees with the Scot.

The Belgian, who succeeded Michael Beale in Govan back in October, admitted that he has been impressed by both the quality of football and the passion of the supporters since he arrived in this country.

The former Genk, Club Brugge and Monaco manager feels the Premiership is on a level with Ligue 1 and thinks that Rangers and Celtic would be able to contend for the title if they played in France.

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“I am positive about Scottish football,” he said. “I think the atmosphere is amazing, amazing everywhere we go. There is a real football culture here. 

"There is a lot of passion around football, not only on game days, but also outside of that. So that is a really big strength. As I say, I am positive about Scottish football. 

“There is not a big, big difference between here and the French league for example. They have maybe more teams right at the soup top there. You don’t have a team like PSG (Paris Saint-Germain) here in this league. 

The Herald: “But you always need to see what are the finances and in that way there is a lot of good work done. And the nice thing here in Scottish football is that everywhere the fans are so enthusiastic about the game – they love football. 

“But the level of football is good as well. I think with Rangers and with Celtic we could compete to be the top in the French league. But with less budget, for sure.

“But the thing I like about Scotland, I need to say, is not football. My wife and I agree the same thing - that we have never been in a country where people are so friendly. Wherever you go. It’s a nice environment to work in.”

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Meanwhile, Clement has welcomed the news that England manager Gareth Southgate is keeping tabs on on-form Rangers goalkeeper Jack Butland ahead of the Euro 2024 finals this summer and reiterated his belief that the 30-year-old would be able to perform well at international level. 

“I read it was the first time since (Paul) Gascoigne (in 1997) that a Rangers player might make play for England,” he said. 

“I am never going to say that another manager needs to do something. I hate that when people say, ‘Okay, you need to pick that one or that one’. All the people that say that don’t know what happened during the week in training and so on. So I will never make that mistake when it comes to other coaches. 

“The only thing I can say is that if Jack is selected for the national team then he is totally ready for that and he has all the qualities to do it. But it’s for another manager to make his decision and he knows all the other goalkeepers who I don’t know that well because I am focussed on here and my club.”