Alan Hutton has raised fears of a financial “gap” opening up between Rangers and Celtic should either side fail to qualify for the Champions League next season.
The former Gers defender and Rangers TV pundit, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted both clubs would be worried about falling behind their rival due to the lucrative payouts from Europe’s top club competition.
As detailed by ESPN’s Dale Johnson (2 May), Uefa’s decision to ban Russian clubs from entering European competitions means this season’s Premiership winners will go straight into the Champions League.
Meanwhile, the runners-up will enter the Champions League third qualifying round.
Analysis from Football Insider (3 May) has revealed Rangers will rake in £25million-plus from their European exploits this season.
Meanwhile, Football Insider expert Kieran Maguire, speaking to the Athletic (3 May), estimates a Champions League campaign would be worth in excess of £40million.
Hutton admitted failure to qualify would be a concern for both Glasgow giants.
Asked if he worries about a financial gap opening if Rangers fail to qualify for the Champions League, Hutton told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “Yeah, of course there is.
“I think that’s the worry on both sides. Go back to before Christmas when Rangers were in front. I think if you’d asked any Celtic fan the same question, they’d be saying the same answer.
“The opportunity of getting straight into the Champions League brings the funding. Then there are the targets that you can then bring in because you’re playing Champions League football for definite.
“There’s definitely that opportunity for a gap to open. I think Rangers doing so well in Europe this year, will obviously help them. It will kind of stem that flow a little bit.
“The gap might not be as big as what it could have been had they gone out early. That’s one plus. But I think moving forward winning the league is so important because of that Champions League money.”