JOSEP Maria Bartomeu, the Barcelona president, believes that when  Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell “talks, you should listen”.

Celtic have been concerned regarding proposals to alter the format of the Uefa Champions League, with the bigger clubs looking to create a system of entry that always favours the elite teams.

Bartomeu has spoken earlier this year of a wildcard entry system which would enable prestigious teams who did not perform well domestically to still qualify for the Champions League – with fears that an entry could come at the expense of a provincial  placed club.

Celtic qualified for the Champions League this season as one of five clubs from middle-tiered nations who emerged from the champions route, but there will be one place fewer up for grabs from 2018.

From then the new format will automatically give four places to the top four nations – Spain, England, Germany and Italy – giving rise to fears that Europe’s premier competition could become a closed shop to teams such as Celtic, who are based in much less prestigious domestic leagues.

Lawwell has been pro-active in ensuring that any changes which are implemented are done so with Celtic still guaranteed a part of it.

The Parkhead side are expected to bank between £25 million and £30m for their involvement in this season’s Champions League, figures that are imperative to the club given the paucity of domestic revenues.

“I know Peter well,” said Bartomeu. “He is one of the best sports leaders in European football – and I do not say that lightly. He is quite incredible.  “I know him through my work on the ECA [European Club Association] board so  I see him often at meetings.  “When Peter talks,  you should listen. He always speaks with a keen intelligence. He knows business, but he also understands football and how football works.

“I am not a member of the Celtic board, obviously. But if  I was then I would go forward with confidence because he is a man who knows everyone in European football.  “That knowledge and expertise must give Celtic so much confidence as a club.  He understands the landscape but he is also able to speak well and represent the interests of his own club.”

A number of leagues have expressed frustration with the increasing polarisation of wealth in European football, while the likes of Bayern Munich’s Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has warned that changes are necessary to avoid a breakaway from UEFA by elite clubs.

The new changes, however, will also see a change in how the current co-efficient is calculated – with clubs set to be judged on their own records, removing the country share for co-efficients.

Effectively, that means  that Scottish champions from 2018 will be unaffected if  other teams from the Scottish  top-flight fail to progress. There will also be consideration given to historical achievements on the Continent.

It means Scotland’s champions won’t be hampered if other clubs from the country fail to progress in European competition.

Historical success will also be taken into account, meaning Celtic’s European Cup win in 1967 will boost their credentials if they are the country’s champions.

And Bartomeu has maintained that he has always regarded Celtic as one of the key players in European circles.

“I would see Celtic as one of the elite clubs,” added the Camp Nou president.

“They are a club who have a strong history with European football; they have a pedigree. There is a lot of weight behind Celtic’s name. It is a reputation that was established through the way they played football.

“I understand that there is some apprehension about the proposed changes, but we would very much see clubs like Celtic as being a part of it.”

Bartomeu also maintained that there is more than just fluff when Barcelona players rave about the atmosphere at Celtic Park. Lionel Messi once claimed that the stadium was his favourite to play  in throughout Europe because of the atmosphere it generated.

The clubs have met nine times in the Champions League and, while there is always a feeling that talk of the energy at Celtic Park can be overplayed to the point of sounding patronising, Bartomeu insists such sentiments are genuine.

“The players talk of playing at Celtic Park as one of the real great adventures in their football lives.  “So many of our players and supporters talk highly of going to  play in Glasgow.”