Celtic have £40m transfer opportunity as Rangers Ibrox debacle allows Brendan Rodgers to build 'chasm'

Brendan Rodgers has the opportunity to build another "chasm" between Celtic and Rangers, according to Chris Sutton.

The Northern Irishman was able to hold the Ibrox side at arms length and exert a period of extreme dominance during his first spell as Hoops manager. Last season there was more of a title race but Rodgers was able to hold his nerve when all sorts of questions were being asked, and delivered the trophies he promised with a league and cup double.

Winning said title has secured a £40million bounty by virtue of qualifying for the Champions League automatically. In order to get in on that action, Gers will have to do what they failed to last season and reach the group stages by navigating the qualifying rounds.

But they have the added challenge of playing their 'home' games at a neutral venue due to the delays with work on Ibrox. Sutton senses that as an opportunity for his old club to pull further ahead once again, if they can spend the money wisely.

He said in the Daily Record: "Brendan Rodgers had a gulf between him and Rangers first time around. If Celtic get it right this summer having been pushed for a spell by the Ibrox club last season, he has a big chance to create another chasm. Stage two of Rodgers’ second spell is fully underway with the team returned for pre-season training and the manager in a far-better place than 12 months ago. It couldn’t have been easy for him last summer. He knew some people didn’t want him back, but he promised to be back at the stadium in May with the title trophy and duly delivered it along with a Scottish Cup.

"He backed his words up and, having conjured that Double, there’s no need for him to say anything this summer. European progression was also on his agenda and, although I’m not sure there were as many advances made in the Champions League as some people would have you believe, it remains a real motivation.

"If Rodgers and Celtic make the right moves over the next couple of months, they have a real chance to both blow Rangers away and also make that elusive mark again when facing the continent’s elite. Let’s get it right, you should never look over the fence. What Rangers are doing isn’t Celtic’s concern. They have to mind their own business and they will. But, to those of us on the outside, it seems there’s a golden opportunity to hammer home an advantage over their biggest rivals.

"Winning that title last season has whacked another £40 million into the Parkhead coffers and, at the same time, kept it out of the Ibrox piggy bank. That has a serious effect on what the respective clubs can do in this transfer market and gives Celtic a huge chance to stride further ahead. Philippe Clement needs to rebuild his squad and he’s not being helped by the fact that his bosses don’t seem so clever when it comes to rebuilding parts of the stadium."

Ibrox has been such a force for good for Rangers in Europe in recent years, helping them take some big scalps to reach the Europa League final in 2022 and progress to advanced stages on other occasions. Sutton reckons not having it available could severely hamper them.

He added: "Rangers fans aren’t interested in shipping containers and absent steel. Not being able to see their team play games at Ibrox is a ridiculous state of affairs. Listen, Rangers should be beating Motherwell and Ross County in the first month if they have to play them on the moon, but it’s not the point and it also has to have some effect on Clement’s chances in the Champions League qualifiers.

"Ibrox has been a powerful ally in Europe in recent seasons. Not having it for qualifiers and failing to make the competition’s new-look league phase could easily see another £40 million jackpot disappear. Celtic are already in there. Rodgers can budget for it and he has to be given the chance to get some of the ones on his wishlist, even if it means pushing the boat out."