How to Qualify for Europe – An Update

With the Scottish Cup finalists and settled, and the top 6 in the SPL decided, we are now closer to knowing which clubs will represent Scotland in Europe next season. Rangers will not be granted a UEFA licence to take part because they were in administration beyond the deadline, so they are not eligible to participate. The only clubs who are still able to qualify for Europe are Celtic (already qualified), Motherwell, St Johnstone, Dundee Utd, Hearts and Hibs. Only one of them will miss out.


Champions League

Which teams qualify?

Scotland will have two entrants in next season’s Champions League. The allocation of these two places is simple – they will go to the two highest placed clubs in the SPL who are eligible to compete in Europe.

Celtic have already guaranteed their place by winning the SPL title. The second spot will go to the 2nd or 3rd placed SPL club, depending on where Rangers finish. Motherwell, St Johnstone, Dundee United and Hearts are all still able to qualify.

Which round will they enter?

Both representatives will enter the competition at the 3rd Qualifying Round, and will have to win two ties to reach the group stage.

Celtic will have an easier route – they will only play the champions of other smaller nations. In the 3rd Qualifying Round they could face the champions of countries ranging from Switzerland or Israel right down to Northern Ireland and Wales. Seeding would make one of the latter seem more likely. In the Play-off Round, the most difficult opposition they could face would be the champions of Belgium or Romania, but again seeding might keep them apart from these sides.

The other entrant will face non-champions from larger countries and will find it very tough to qualify. In the 3rd Qualifying Round they could face the 3rd placed team from Portugal or the runners-up from Russia, Ukraine or the Netherlands. The most beatable opposition would probably be the Danish or Belgian runners-up, but seeding would most likely prevent them from facing any of these sides. If they progressed to the play-off stage, they could meet the 4th placed sides from England, Spain or Germany.

If either team loses their 3rd Qualifying Round tie, they would be parachuted into the Europa League at the Play-off Round. If either team loses their Champions Play-off Round tie, they would drop down into the Europa League Group Stage.

When are their matches?

The 2012/13 Champions League starts on 3rd July 2012 – two days after the final of Euro 2012. Scottish teams don’t quite enter that early, but will play their first matches before the start of the SPL season.

3rd qualifying round – 30th July/1st August & 7th/8th August

Play-off round – 21st/22nd August & 28th/29th August

Group stage – 18th/19th September, 2nd/3rd October, 23rd/24th October, 6th/7th November, 20th/21st November, 4th/5th December.



Europa League

Which teams qualify?

The Europa League places are slightly more complicated. There are 3 places available.

The 4th and 5th placed clubs in the SPL are guaranteed a Europa League spot. 6th may or may not be enough to qualify depending on what happens in the Scottish Cup final (and where Hearts finish if they win it).


If Hibs win the Scottish Cup

Hibs will enter the Europa League along with the 4th and 5th placed SPL sides. They will enter at the following stages of the competition.

Hibs – Play-off Round
4th in SPL – 3rd Qualifying Round
5th in SPL – 2nd Qualifying Round


If Hearts finish 2nd/3rd in the SPL and win the Scottish Cup

Hearts will qualify for the Champions League if they finish 2nd or 3rd. If a Champions League qualifying team wins the Scottish Cup, then the runners-up get into Europe as the cup representatives. That would mean that Hibs would qualify for Europe.

4th in SPL – Play-off Round
5th in SPL – 3rd Qualifying Round
Hibs – 2nd Qualifying Round


If Hearts finish 4th-6th in SPL and win the Scottish Cup

Even if they also qualify for Europe via the league, Hearts will officially be considered to be the cup representatives in the Europa League. As a result, the cup runners-up would not get a place in Europe, and it would instead go to the next placed side in the SPL. This would mean that all the clubs (except Rangers) in the top 6 would qualify for Europe.

Hearts – Play-off Round
4th in SPL (5th if Hearts finish 4th) – 3rd Qualifying Round
5th in SPL (or 6th if Hearts finish 4th/5th) – 2nd Qualifying Round

When are their matches?

The earliest entrant will play their first European match on 19th July, two and a half weeks before the start of the SPL season.

2nd Qualifying Round – 19th July & 26th July

3rd Qualifying Round – 2nd August & 9th August

Play-off Round – 23rd August & 30th August

Group Stage – 20th September, 4th October, 25th October, 8th November, 22nd November, 6th/13th December

About SPLstats
Providing statistics and trivia about Scottish football. Main focus is the SPL, but all Scottish football will be covered. Not affiliated to the SPL.

One Response to How to Qualify for Europe – An Update

  1. Steven says:

    There is no way Hibs deserve a Euro spot unless they win the Cup, here’s hoping all eligible top 6 teams get a place.

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