The Hoops gain unlikely support from Pirlo.
Celtic are preparing to take on Cliftonville in the Champions League second qualifying round, despite having reached the last-16 of last season’s tournament.
Manager Neil Lennon has previously admitted his bemusement at this decision from UEFA, with the Hoops having to play competitive matches as early as mid-July.
“Am I baffled that a club that reached the last 16 has to play these qualifiers? Yes,” the boss was quoted in the Daily Mail.
“I think it has to be looked at. I don’t think it’s fair considering the season we had and the amount of games we played.”
Celtic beat both Spartak Moscow and FC Barcelona in the 2012/13 competition, to make the unexpected progression from their group along with the Catalans.
The Scottish champions were eventually eliminated in the next round to Serie A winners Juventus and it is in Turin where the club have found an unlikely supporter for their cause.
Juve and Italy star Andrea Pirlo has voiced his opinions on Celtic’s long and arduous Champions League campaign.
“It’s an insult Celtic have to enter the qualifiers this early on,” the World Cup winner was quoted in the Sun.
“It is an insult to the history of the club – and to all they have achieved in Europe recently.
“As champions they should not need to qualify. It is not fitting for a club of their size.”
It is a nice sentiment from one of the greatest figures in the modern game and something that Lennon was quick to take to Twitter to praise publicly.
Thunder in Glasgow..who would’ve thought?…and my admiration for Andrea Pirlo grows daily
— Neil Lennon (@OfficialNeil) July 23, 2013
Like Pirlo’s side Celtic are previous winners of the top European competition, but UEFA’s new rules mean that the Scottish Premier League is not regarded highly enough for the winner to automatically qualify.