THE atmosphere of a Scottish fitba’ Saturday crackles with an injury doubt to Leigh Griffiths, the glowering of a possible impending storm of the Barton-Brown variety, and the gathering clouds that will settle over the losers.

However, the backstory of the Celtic v Rangers collision this afternoon has little to do with a domestic superiority. This concerns the atmosphere in European football that is feverish, even revolutionary.

The result in Glasgow today, of course, will dominate the headlines and affect the psychological well-being of a significant part of the populace, severely impacting on many in the numpty constituency. It will have little resonance elsewhere after the gaudy pictures are consumed in highlights or live coverage.

The story that has severe consequences for every association, every league is playing out in meetings throughout Europe and phone calls between people who are not happy with the status quo in the sport and are determined to do something about it. The motivation, of course, is purely financial. Football has become the staple of subscription channels, a drama that is regularly intoxicating and thus consistently attractive to both viewers and broadcasters.

The battlefield for the moment is the Champions League. The impact of deliberations elsewhere will have a far more significant impact on the Scottish game than anything that happens today.

If modern football is the most popular of soap operas, it is perhaps appropriate if one provides a catch-up service to those who  have missed or are unaware of the Champions League stooshie. Briefly, the big clubs (and that definition means those with the biggest turnovers, largely through TV rights) want a greater, guaranteed slice of the Champions League pie.

Their case was not supported by anything as daft as increased competition, level playing fields or the notion of sport having to have room to accommodate romance. No, it was commendably blunt in message. It was a case of we want more. And when do we want it? Now.

A compromise of sorts, more an act of desperate appeasement, was formed and the four big leagues were allowed to have a combined 16 confirmed representatives in a 32-team tournament. The smaller leagues were thrown a bone in that the route to the group stages was left relatively open for their champions.

There was muttering, there was a quiet outrage but that plan seemed to be set in place for the Champions League competition starting in 2018. But the sans culottes – the leagues outside the big four of Spain, German, Italy and England – have hit back. The European Professional Football League has criticised what it sees as UEFA’S weak compliance in the face of the swagger of the big clubs.

It is hugely difficult to see what they can do about it, however. Yes, the EPFL may force UEFA into a volte-face, but that is unlikely and if it succeeded it would push the big clubs into the arms of Chinese investors who want to set up a version of the Champions League. This would do away with the inconvenience of those pesky Bate Borisovs, KAA Gents, Rosenborgs who regularly wander into the rich man’s playground of the Champions League group stages.

It would also, of course have an impact on the Scottish champions. Recent history has shown there is a considerable degree of difficulty in Scotland’s representatives advancing to the group stages of the Champions League. The revamped competition makes this no easier but any competition, organised and paid for by the Chinese, would make it impossible.

Chinese individuals and corporations have invested £2bn in European clubs in the past 18 months. They have vast funds to create a competition and the will to do so. UEFA, frankly, would be unable to intervene as the renegade tournament would be run in a manner akin to that cricket revolution instigated by Kerry Packer.

The tumult of a Glasgow derby thus has disturbing undertones for those who want to see the domestic game flourish in Europe. Once Celtic v Rangers would be a fixture between the two sides who would compete in the final of that year’s two major European competitions.

Now every club outside the big four leagues is scrambling, elbows out, to gain a place at this feast of TV largesse, whether Chinese or UEFA-based.

Celtic are the best-placed club in terms of influence from the smaller leagues. Peter Lawwell, the club’s chief executive and a board member of the European Club Association, has been lobbying strongly for years and recognises the import of developments. The very business model of a host of clubs is under threat.

Forgivably, perhaps, the focus today is on the football. It is the business of football that is the big story, however. And that is a fight that the Scottish domestic game cannot afford to lose.