How To Qualify For Europe

As the SPL approaches its climax, it’s time to have a look at what clubs need to do to qualify for Europe this season.  Due to poor performances in Europe between 2007/08 and 2011/12, Scotland will have four teams in Europe rather than the five teams which took part last season.  Some of these teams will enter earlier than they did in previous seasons too.

Champions League

The SPL champions will enter next season’s Champions League.  Celtic are almost certain to take up that spot, and will enter in the 2nd Qualifying Round – a round earlier than they did last year.  That means they will have to progress through three qualifying rounds in order to make the group stage.  However, just like this season, they will only face champions of smaller countries, avoiding the 3rd and 4th placed sides from bigger nations.  In theory, that should give them an easier route to the group stage.  Their impressive performances in this season’s Champions League mean that it is almost certain that they will be seeded in each of their three qualifying rounds.

Europa League

The Europa League places are slightly more complicated.  There are 3 places available, and they will be allocated in the following order of preference.

  • Scottish Cup Winner (if not already qualified for Champions League)
  • 2nd in SPL
  • 3rd in SPL
  • Scottish Cup Runner-up (if Champions League qualifiers win Cup)
  • 4th in SPL

What that means

The 2nd and 3rd placed clubs in the SPL are guaranteed a Europa League spot.

There is also a spot available for the winners of the Scottish Cup.  If the Scottish Cup is won by a club which qualifies for the Champions League, then the Scottish Cup runner-up will get the other available place.

4th place in the SPL can qualify in one of two ways:

  • Scottish Cup won by the team who finishes 2nd or 3rd in the SPL.
  • Scottish Cup won by Celtic and they beat the team who finishes 2nd or 3rd in the SPL in the final.

The “best” qualifier (either the Scottish Cup winners or 2nd in the SPL) will enter the Europa League 3rd Qualifying Round, and would have to win two ties to reach the group stage.  The other two sides will enter at the 2nd Qualifying Round and would have to win three ties to reach the group stage.