SPL without Rangers… and how it affects our coefficient.


I keep reading articles in the MSM talking about how without Rangers, Scotland’s coefficient is being ruined.  Our coeee-what-eee?  Let’s start with the basics.

Each year a certain number of European places is given to each country based on its ‘ranking’, or ‘coefficient’.  This ranking is made up from the results of all the clubs from that country over the last 5 years of European competition.  (the full complicated version is available to view here, but I’ll quickly summarize).

The country and club coefficients are calculated differently, so for the purposes of this, we will stick to the country coefficient. 

Basically, points are awarded for every win or draw by a club in either the Champions League or Europa League.  It is simply 2 points a win, and 1 for a draw, with half points awarded for results in qualifying rounds.  There is also bonus points for qualifying for later rounds – eg, the Champions League proper qualifiers are awarded 4 points each. (aka, keep the big boys at the top rules)

All the points gathered by the countries participants for the year are added together, and then divided by the number of teams, leading to the coefficient rating for the year.  The coefficient rating is then added to the results from the previous 4 years, giving 5 years in total to determine which country is ranked where.  This in turn decides the ‘access list‘ – eg, how many places each country gets in the next European competition.  Still with me?

One of the many arguments heard from Govan way was that Scotland could not survive without Rangers as our coefficient would die.  On the face of it, sounds about right, but what is the actual reality?

As results are taken from the last 5 years, next season will not include the 2007/2008 season which saw Rangers make it to the UEFA final in Manchester, which left Scotland with a single season coefficient of 10.25.  Since then however, things haven’t been so rosy – this is how our current coefficient is.  The 0.6 from this season is what we have managed so far, but the last column shows we still have 2 clubs involved who will lift our rankings (assuming Celtic can get to the Champions League proper)…

# country 2008/2009 2009/2010 2010/2011 2011/2012 2012/2013 ranking teams
13 Cyprus 6.333 4.25 3.125 9.125 2.875 25.708 2/ 4
14 Austria 2.25 9.375 4.375 7.125 1.5 24.625 1/ 4
15 Denmark 8.2 4.4 6.7 3.1 1.4 23.8 4/ 5
16 Switzerland 2.9 5.75 5.9 6 2.125 22.675 3/ 4
17 Israel 1.75 7.25 4.625 6 1.375 21 2/ 4
18 Poland 5 2.125 4.5 6.625 2.375 20.625 2/ 4
19 Belarus 4 3.375 5.875 3.125 1.875 18.25 1/ 4
20 Croatia 4.333 3 4.125 3.75 2.625 17.833 1/ 4
21 Romania 2.642 6.083 3.166 4.333 1.3 17.524 4/ 5
22 Czech Republic 2.375 4.1 3.5 5.25 2.25 17.475 3/ 4
23 Slovakia 4.833 2.5 3 2.375 1.5 14.208 4
24 Sweden 2.5 2.5 2.6 2.9 3.375 13.875 2/ 4
25 Serbia 3 3 3.5 2.125 1.875 13.5 2/ 4
26 Bulgaria 2.25 3.125 4.625 1.5 0.75 12.25 4
27 Norway 2.5 2.1 2.375 2.3 2.4 11.675 3/ 5
28 Scotland 1.875 2.666 3.6 2.75 0.6 11.491 3/ 5
29 Hungary 1 2.75 2.75 2.25 1.75 10.5 2/ 4
30 Georgia 1.166 1.75 1.875 2.875 1.5 9.166 1/ 4

As you can see, we are down in 28th place with an 11.491 rating, just behind Norway and Bulgaria.  This is a far cry from the 15th place we occupied last season, which allowed us 2 champions league places for this season.  Next year, baring Celtic winning it this year, we will have one place.  We would have had this with, or without Rangers.

The next table shows the UEFA access list for this season (thanks to this great site)

Rank Country Champ. League places Europa League places
1 Eng 3 3
2 Esp 4 2
3 Ger 4 3
4 Ita 3 3
5 Fra 3 3
6 Por 3 3
7 Rus 3 4
8 Ukr 2 4
9 Ned 2 5
10 Tur 2 3
11 Gre 2 3
12 Den 2 3
13 Bel 2 3
14 Rom 2 3
15 Sco 2 3
16 Sui 1 3
17 Isr 1 3
18 Cze 1 3
19 Aut 1 3
20 Cyp 1 3
21 Bul 1 3
22 Cro 1 3
23 Bls 1 3
24 Pol 1 3
25 Svk 1 3
26 Nor 1 4
27 Srb 1 3
28 Swe 1 3
29 Bos 1 3
30 Fin 1 4
31 Irl 1 3
32 Hun 1 3
33 Mol 1 3
34 Lit 1 3
35 Lat 1 3
36 Geo 1 3
37 Azb 1 3
38 Slo 1 3
39 Mac 1 3
40 Isl 1 3
41 Kaz 1 3
42 Lie 0 1
43 Mon 1 3
44 Alb 1 3
45 Est 1 3
46 Wal 1 3
47 Arm 1 3
48 Mlt 1 3
49 Nir 1 3
50 Far 1 3
51 Lux 1 3
52 And 1 2
53 Sma 1 2

Sitting in 28th place next season will see us with just 1 Champions League spot and 3 Europa League spots.  Also note that this is the same as 51st place in the table!

So, that is the present, including the contribution of Rangers.  But what happens, if say, UEFA expelled them for, I don’t know, undeclared player payments? (completely hypothetical of course!)

Well, lets look at the individual club coefficient contributions over the last 4 years, firstly, including Rangers.

This shows the season by season points gained by Scottish clubs in Europe, and the final coefficient, which you can see equals the one listed in the first table.  Qw/d/l is the number of games won, lost and drawn in qualifying rounds, and W/L/D is the same in rounds proper.  As you can see points for a win is 2, 1 for a draw, and all points halved for qualifying rounds.  Eg, this season, Saints contributed 0.5, for 1 draw against Eses.  Dundee Utd the same, while Motherwell gave nothing.  Celtic have two wins, which = 1 point, plus another bonus point for reaching the next round, giving us 3 points this season or 0.6 (as you can see in the first table) after dividing by the 5 competing clubs.

If you add 0.6 to the figures above, we get our current coefficient rating of 11.491 (ignore the rounding in tables above!)

Now… what would the coefficient be like if we remove Rangers from the equation?

All we have done is deleted all sign of Rangers results from the table, and recalculated pretending Rangers don’t exist.  As you can see the total is now 11.1333, which, when we add the 0.6 from this season gives us 11.7333.  Higher than our current rating!!  So, er, actually, this myth that Rangers are incredibly important for our European positions is total and utter rubbish.

In fact, the opposite is true.  If Rangers had not been competing in Europe for Scotland over the last 4 years, we would have a higher coefficient than we currently do!  Incredible.

Now, the eagle eyed will have noticed one problem with the table above, and that is in seasons 10/11 and 09/10, Rangers gained 4 bonus points each season.  This was due to direct entry to the Champions League, which gives 4 immediate bonus points, without doing anything.  I have included in the table above, as, if Rangers hadn’t been there Celtic would have got these instead.

In the interest of fairness though, lets look at it without these ‘bonus’ points – the argument will be if Rangers hadn’t made the final in 07/08 there would have been no automatic place anyway (we’ll look at that in a follow up blog!), and that Celtic wouldn’t have made the points from qualifying (hypothetical, but possible).

So, with all trace of Rangers gone, what happens?

So now our coefficient has dropped, to 9.333.  Add in our 0.6 from this season and we have a grand total of 9.933.  Where does that leave us?

Well, a quick look back at the top, to the current coefficient table would see us drop to 29th in the table – just one place lower, swapping our current place with the Hungarians.  I can almost hear the drone of laughter coming from Ibrox already, so, lets quickly look at what this would ACTUALLY mean to Scottish Football.

To do this we go to table 2, and look at the access list again.  What would 29th place get us, that 28th place wouldn’t?

So?  Er, well, the laughter at Ibrox can stop now please, cause the answer is precisely nothing.  Nadda. Zilch.

At the very worst Scotland would be one place worse off, which would have zero affect on the European places.  At the best, Scotland would actually be better off (which, to be fair, would mean just about nothing as well, aside from one less qualifying round for the second placed team).

So, there you are… another Rangers myth busted.  Regardless of your thoughts, our current coefficient is way too low, but would have been low regardless of if it was Rangers or Gretna (another defunct team who spent more than they made) in the European spots.

Was this another dig at Rangers?  No.

Another dig at the MSM printing stories which have not been researched, have not been thought out and have not been verified with facts?  Absolutely.  And if this ‘world record crowd’ myth goes on any longer I’ll disprove that one thoroughly as well.

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