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Rangers boss fears Old Firm will never qualify for CL

Walter Smith fears it will soon be impossible for the Old Firm to reach the Champions League, reports the Scottish Sun. Scotland have plunged below Belgium in UEFA's rankings and lost direct entry to the group phase.

Next season's SPL champs must get through THREE qualifying rounds to reach the lucrative groups in 2011/12.

Scotland's runners-up will be dumped into the Europa League.

He said: "I think it brings it into sharp focus for the Scottish teams.

"It will happen to a whole lot of bigger teams in the smaller countries around Europe. They will be badly affected.

"You can say the coefficient is our own fault.

"But the fact is it will be very difficult in a financial sense for the clubs to even make their best attempt to reach the Champions League.

"Even when we get the Champions League income it is difficult for us to spend the kind of money that is going to guarantee you a place to compete.

"Therefore it is going to be a nigh-on impossible task for them to do so if we are not getting that benefit or the guarantee of it.

"There are qualifying matches for the future league winner, the way it is structured is difficult.

"The realistic expectation is to have difficult ties to get near it and it's a huge problem."

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