Liverpool’s task is also not straightforward with games against the Russian side Rubin Kazan – a round trip of 5,000 miles – Bordeaux and the Swiss club Sion in Group B. Celtic have the prospect of facing Robin van Persie and Nani’s new side Fenerbahce, plus Ajax and Molde from Norway in Group A.
The financial rewards of the Europa League have been increased by Uefa this season and there is the carrot of the winners qualifying automatically for next season’s Champions League.
“The stature of the Europa League is growing and the competition is getting more difficult. It’s good for fans who want to watch European competition but it is a tough competition,” said Celtic’s head of operations, Ronnie Hawthorn. “There is an increase in Europa funding – something like a 63% increase which is quite significant – and that is an important step forward for the competition, and there are lots of good groups including our own.
“To see players like Van Persie will be so attractive for the fans and how they are coped with in terms of our own team. That can make the match all the more interesting.
“It is also an important step for the competition that the Europa winners now access the Champions League – as Sevilla have shown last season.”
Tottenham have a history with Anderlecht. They beat the Belgian side on penalties in the 1984 Uefa Cup final, the last time Spurs triumphed in a European competition. Some 13 years after the final, Uefa banned Anderlecht from Europe for a year after it emerged they had bribed the referee in the semi-final against Nottingham Forest.