There are no easy matches in European football, to coin a phrase, but yesterday's draw for the preliminary stages of the three club competitions certainly erred on the side of generosity to the Scottish game.
Rangers, Celtic and Dundee United were paired respectively with amateurs from the Faroe Islands, a team of part-timers from Cardiff and the champions of Andorra, known in that "country" as the Real Madrid Supporters' Club of Charlie's Restaurant.
In contrast, Newcastle must overcome opponents from the former Yugoslavia to reach the lucrative group stage of the Champions' League, while Barry Town and Crusaders face arduous and, in all probability, fruitless trips to the old Soviet Union.
For Rangers, who meet the great unpronounceables of Gotu Ittrotarfelag, the main concern is that having to complete their Champions' League qualifier before the end of July allows scant time for their new, virtually Scot- free side to gel.
In goal for the Faroese should be Jens Martin Knudsen, who achieved minor celebrity for wearing a bobble hat in internationals. Nevertheless, Rangers will treat them with respect. "The stakes are too high not to approach the tie properly," the manager, Walter Smith, said. "We should get through to face Gothenburg, but thinking ahead is always a danger."
In the Uefa Cup, Celtic make their first trip to Wales to take on Inter Cabletel. The League of Wales runners-up are managed by the former Scotland keeper George Wood, who went into cliche overdrive on hearing the news: "We'll give 110 per cent... I'll tell them to go out and enjoy themselves... It's a learning process."
Inter, a park side until 1990, are investigating the possibility of hiring Ninian Park or Cardiff rugby club's ground. They may have to tackle Celtic without their top scorer, Paul Burrows, who is considering a move to Carmarthen, but they can take heart from Barry's performance in restricting Aberdeen to a 6-4 aggregate last autumn.
Dundee United's opponents are, in their official guise, called Club Esportiu Principat. Whether they comprise waiters, chefs or customers of the aforementioned Charlie's is unclear, but they should be easy meat even for a club whose last European venture ended in defeat by the little-known Tatran Presov, of Slovakia, in 1994.
Newcastle, who yesterday unveiled a navy, orange and green strip that they will wear in European away fixtures, do not have to play until mid- August. Kenny Dalglish, the manager, thus has the opportunity to watch Partizan Belgrade play Croatia (formerly Dinamo) Zagreb, who collide over two legs this month for the first time since before the war, six years ago.
The 16 defeated teams from the second qualifying phase of the Champions' League are entered in the Uefa Cup, raising the prospect of an Old Firm meeting.
European draw, Digest
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