Smith: Money is not the driving force for Gers

July 2, 2008

Rangers manager Walter Smith insists the financial aspect of European football must not overburden them as they seek to reach the Champions League group stages this season.

The Govan club will face either Santa Coloma from Andorra or Lithuanian champions FBK Kaunas in the second qualifying round with the first game at Ibrox on July 29/30 and the return a week later.

Rangers must get through two qualifying rounds to reach the group stages but failure to get past either Santa Coloma or Kaunas will see the Light Blues out of Europe for the rest of the season.

After dropping out of the Champions League last season, Rangers then reached the final of the UEFA Cup and it was reported the Govan club made almost £12million in total from their involvement in Europe, gate receipts aside.

But Smith is keen to get away from the money side of European football.

'The players themselves know the importance of the tie,' Smith told Rangers' website. 'They enjoyed their European games last season and they will want the taste of the same again.

'There is a lot made of the financial aspect every season and quite rightly. And as we found last season, the amount of money that is available for qualifying into the Champions League makes a big difference.

'So it is important that you do try and get through. But I don't think that as managers and players we can get too burdened by the financial aspects. We know what they are but we want to be involved in the Champions League proper.

'However, it will take four really good performances to get through. We managed it last season and hopefully we will do it this season.'

The former Scotland boss added: 'It is always interesting to see the teams that have to play in the first round and I would say that Kaunas will be the favoured side to go through.

'I don't think anybody will know that much about the Andorran side and Kaunas themselves will think they will be favourites.

'We were close to playing them last season, they lost out narrowly to FC Zeta, who we played in the qualifiers.

'We've had Lithuanian players in Scotland over the last few years at Hearts and they have all been of good standard so Kaunas will be difficult opposition to overcome.'