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CHARLIE CHRISTIE – UEFA Solidarity money should go further than top flight

By Contributor

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After the dismal showings from both Motherwell and Dundee United in their Europa Conference League qualifying matches, it looks as though Scotland’s very important European club coefficient standing will again depend on the exploits of the Old Firm.

Charlie Christie provided expert analysis to the BBC's Rob McLean during live commentary of the game.
Charlie Christie provided expert analysis to the BBC's Rob McLean during live commentary of the game.

Hearts, though, may yet be able to contribute if they can overcome FC Zurich in their Europa League qualifier.

UEFA’s complicated points system for national club sides in European competition is not easy to follow.

But with the significant increase in the payments received by clubs not playing in Europe, it has possibly become more important than ever.

Last season saw every Scottish Premiership club not in Europe gain from a UEFA ‘solidarity’ payment of over £250,000 and this payment is to be increased by over 20 per cent in the next five years. That is a significant amount of money which is earmarked by UEFA for clubs to use in their youth development system and is invaluable to clubs in their financial planning.

My one real grievance in the current system is that the payment is made only to those clubs playing in the top tier of each country’s league structure.

Clubs such as Inverness, Dundee, Queen’s Park and Partick Thistle who all have thriving academy programmes receive not one penny of the UEFA money.

Livingston, whilst being in the Premiership, also missed out last year on this payment because they did not have a recognised youth development system in place but the monies that would have gone to them were also divided up among the remaining Premier League clubs. Would it not have made sense to filter some percentage of this funding down to those clubs in the lower leagues who do run organised academy programmes?

Motherwell capitulating so easily to Sligo Rovers was a very difficult watch and to be beaten by a side currently fifth in the Irish League in both home and away legs was a poor reflection of the Scottish game, whilst the away performance in Alkmaar from Dundee United was abysmal.

The loss of five goals in 25 minutes during the first half of their away leg brutally extinguished that first leg optimism.

And so, attention turns to Glasgow’s big two and Robbie Neilson’s Hearts to repair some of the damage done to our UEFA standing.

For the good of the Scottish game and considering those significant increases in European payments to our clubs let’s hope the results are positive and we can maintain our status in the coefficient table ahead of Austria, Belgium and Serbia.

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