Celtic FC in Europe 2013/14

The draw for the Champions League 2nd Qualifying Round will take place on Friday at 11am, with Celtic entering the “Champions section” at this stage.  They will be hoping to make it to the group stage for the second consecutive season, and will have to win three matches to do so.  Their 2nd Qualifying Round matches will take place on 16th/17th July and 23rd/24th July.

Celtic will be taking part in Europe for the 19th consecutive season, and their 49th season overall.  Rangers (51) are the only Scottish side with more appearances, though that record is likely to be surpassed by Celtic in the next few years.  It will be the Parkhead side’s 28th participation in Europe’s elite competition, a tournament which they famously won in Lisbon in 1967.

There are still a few countries which Celtic have yet to visit on European duty – most notably Bulgaria, Turkey, Cyprus & Northern Ireland.  Spanish clubs have provided the opposition most often – 30 times in total.  Their most frequent opponents are Barcelona, who they have now faced 10 times in Europe.  The map below shows the countries which Celtic have visited.  There are a few countries shaded in light green – these  countries have never actually been visited by Celtic but were part of USSR/Yugoslavia when Celtic played there.

Celtic

The countries Celtic have visited on European duty.

History

The club have played 282 matches in European competition, winning 132, drawing 52 and losing 98 (this tally includes the actual on-field results for matches against Rapid Vienna and Sion which were later annulled/changed by UEFA).  It will come as no surprise to anyone that the vast majority of their defeats were away, and the vast majority of their wins at home.  Celtic have only lost 18 of their 139 home games in Europe, but have won just 36 out of 137 away from home.  This record has been taken to extremes in recent years, with a formidable home record often cancelled out by abysmal away form, though 2012/13 saw them pick up 3 wins out of 6 on the road.  Henrik Larsson is Celtic’s record European goalscorer – with 34 goals he has scored more than twice as many as any other player.

Celtic’s first European adventure came in the 1962/63 Fairs Cup, where they were drawn against Valencia in the 1st Round.  They travelled to the Mestalla for their first match, and came away with a 4-2 defeat, having trailed 3-0 at half-time.  Bobby Carroll scored both goals, becoming the club’s first ever European goalscorer.  The 2nd leg at Parkhead finished 2-2, meaning the Bhoys crashed to a 6-4 aggregate defeat in their first ever European tie.

The following season saw a more impressive run, this time in the Cup Winners’ Cup.  Basel, Dinamo Zagreb and Slovan Bratislava were dispatched on the way to the semi-final, and a 3-0 win over MTK Budapest at Celtic Park put them within touching distance of the final.  But an amazing turnaround in the 2nd leg (not uncommon in those days) saw Jimmy McGrory’s side lose 4-0 in Hungary to miss out on a chance of their first European trophy.

Two years later, with Celtic now managed by Jock Stein, they lost out at the same stage of the same tournament, having again won at home in the first leg.  Liverpool were beaten 1-0 at Celtic Park, but won 2-0 in a controversial 2nd leg at Anfield, which saw Celtic denied a late goal which would have taken them through to a Hampden final against Borussia Dortmund.  Celtic fans rioted after the final whistle, with cans and bottles raining down from the stand.

The next season, 1966/67, Stein took his side into the European Cup for the first time.  Victories over FC Zurich, Nantes and Vojvodina took Celtic into the semi-final, and this time they managed to hold on to a first-leg lead against Dukla Prague.  After a 3-1 win at Celtic Park, they drew 0-0 in Czechoslovakia to become the first British side to reach the final of Europe’s elite competition.  Stein took his side to Lisbon to face Helenio Herrera’s Internazionale side, famous exponents of the defensive “catenaccio” system.  Despite falling behind to a Sandro Mazzola penalty, Celtic fought back with goals from Tommy Gemmell and Stevie Chalmers to win their first, and so far only, European trophy.

Stein’s side were the first side outside of Spain, Portugal and Italy to win the trophy, ending the era of Southern European domination.  Only 1 of the next 17 trophies would go to clubs from one of those nations, but unfortunately Scotland weren’t amongst the winners again – 16 of the next 17 went to clubs from England, West Germany and the Netherlands.  Stein’s achievement was all the more remarkable given that all of his side were born within a 30 mile radius of Celtic Park.  1967 was an annus mirabilis for Scottish football – on top of Celtic’s win, Rangers reached the Cup Winners’ Cup final, and Killie made the semi-final of the Fairs Cup.  That same summer, Scotland recorded their famous 3-2 win over England at Wembley.

Celtic continued to be competitive in the European Cup during the remainder of the “9 in a row” years, regularly reaching the quarter-finals and semi-finals, and making it to another final in 1970.  This time, Stein couldn’t lead them to glory, as they lost 2-1 to Feyenoord in the San Siro, with Ove Kindvall scoring with less than 5 minutes of extra-time remaining.  Future Celtic manager Wim Jansen played in the Feyenoord midfield that night.

The end of the “9 in a row” era led to a huge downturn in fortune in European competition, something that wasn’t properly remedied until the eras of Martin O’Neill and Gordon Strachan.  Between 1974/75 and 2000/01, Celtic failed to progress through more than two ties in any season, suffering embarrassing defeats to the likes of Wacker Innsbruck, Politehnica Timisoara, Neuchatel Xamax and Croatia Zagreb.

In O’Neill’s 2nd season in charge (2001/02), he took Celtic into the Champions League group stage for the first time, thanks to an impressive 3-1 win away to Ajax.  In the group stagea they were drawn gainst Juventus, Porto and Rosenborg.  Celtic won all 3 home matches, but could only finish 3rd after losing each of their away games – something that they would become used to over the next few years.

The following year, they suffered a disappointing elimination in the Champions League qualifier against Basel, but it would prove to be a blessing in disguise, as they dropped down into the UEFA Cup.  Heavily inspired by 11 goals from Henrik Larsson, they eliminated Suduva, Blackburn, Celta Vigo, Stuttgart, Liverpool and Boavista to reach the final in Seville against Jose Mourinho’s Porto.  Despite a double from Larsson in the final, Porto came out on top, winning 3-2 after extra-time.  Mourinho’s side would go on to win the Champions League the following season.  Celtic were awarded the FIFA Fair Play Awarded for the behaviour of their supporters before, during, and after the final.

O’Neill got his side into the Champions League group stage on two further occasions, but again failed to get them into the knock-out stages.  In 2003/04, they were heading through with 5 minutes to go, before Bobo Balde decided to play basketball in his own box, giving Lyon a penalty and progression.  That led to another UEFA Cup run, with 19 year-old David Marshall turning in a sensational performance in the Nou Camp to eliminate Barcelona in the last 16, before Villarreal eliminated them in the quarter-final.

Gordon Strachan would succeed where O’Neill failed, but only after an ignominous start.  In his first match in charge, they suffered a 5-0 defeat away to Artmedia Bratislava in the 2005/06 Champions League.  Despite a battling display at Celtic Park, they failed to overturn the deficit, winning 4-0 but losing out 5-4 on aggregate.

Strachan would redeem himself the following season, squeezing through a Champions League group containing Manchester United, FC Copenhagen and Benfica, courtesy of 3 home wins.  Again, they lost all of their away matches, but it didn’t matter this time.  Progression was secured with a game to spare after a Shunsuke Nakamura free-kick and an Artur Boruc penalty save secured a 1-0 home win over Man Utd.  They were drawn against AC Milan in the last 16, and turned in two outstanding defensive displays to keep things goalless after 180 minutes, before Kaka broke their hearts in extra-time in the San Siro.

The following season, they again reached the last 16 with 3 home wins and 3 away defeats in the groups – this time against AC Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk and Benfica.  Barcelona lay in wait in the knock-out stages, and Lionel Messi inspired them to a 3-2 win at Celtic Park, although Celtic led twice thanks to Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Barry Robson.  Xavi scored the only goal in the Nou Camp to see Barcelona comfortably through.

Strachan’s side failed to make an impact in the group stage during his last season in charge, and all Tony Mowbray had to show for his short spell in charge was a 2-0 away win against Dynamo Moscow, which was rare and impressive in equal measures.  Neil Lennon had a difficult start in Europe, losing out to Braga and Utrecht in his first season in charge, then failing on the pitch against Sion before being reprieved by UEFA.  They gave a better account of themselves in a tough group containing eventual winners Atletico Madrid plus Rennes and Udinese, but ultimately failed to progress, finishing 3rd.

But Lennon and his side had a much more impressive season last year.  After comfortably dispatching HJK Helsinki and Helsingborg in the qualifying rounds, they reached the Champions League group stage, where they were drawn with Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow.  The campaign kicked off with a disappointing draw at home to Benfica, but a sensational 3-2 win away to Spartak Moscow (their first away group stage win) put them in a strong position heading into a double header against Barcelona.

There was late disappointment at the Nou Camp, as Jordi Alba scored a last gasp winner to deny Celtic a point, but they took revenge a fortnight later when goals from Victor Wanyama and Tony Watt sealed a famous 2-1 win over the Catalan giants.  A score draw away to Benfica in the next match would have taken Celtic through, but a 2-1 defeat meant that qualification went down to the final match.  Kris Commons scored a crucial late penalty to seal a 2-1 win over Spartak Moscow at Celtic Park, taking Celtic into the last 16.  Italian champions Juventus proved too strong for Celtic, winning 3-0 at Celtic Park and 2-0 in Turin to end a memorable campaign for Neil Lennon’s men.

2013/14 Champions League

Celtic will have to progress through three qualifying rounds to reach the group stage. Their task is made easier by the fact that they are in the “Champions” section, meaning they will face champions of other small countries and avoid sides from the bigger nations.  Celtic’s high UEFA coefficient means that they will be seeded in each of the three qualifying rounds, and as such should be expected to make it through.

The draws for the 1st and 2nd Qualifying Round are held at the same time, meaning that the outcome of the 1st Qualifying Round is not known at the time of the draw.  This means that Celtic could end up in a situation where they don’t know who they will play until a week before their match (there is around a 12% chance of this happening).  For the purposes of the 2nd Qualifying Round draw, UEFA assume that the seeded side will win in each of the 1st Qualifying Round ties.

1st Qualifying Round

Matches: 2nd/3rd July & 9th/10th July

Celtic will not take part in this round, but as mentioned above, they could end up facing one of the winners in the next round.  Only 4 teams participate in this round – the champions of the 4 lowest ranked UEFA nations (excluding Gibaltar, who joined too late to participate this season).

CL1

2nd Qualifying Round

Matches: 16th/17th July & 23rd/24th July

The two winners from the 1st Qualifying Round will be joined by 32 other teams, including Celtic.  These sides are the champions of the nations ranked 16th-49th by UEFA (excluding Liechtenstein, who do not have a league and thus are not eligible for Champions League entry).

If Celtic are eliminated at this stage, they do NOT drop down into the Europa League and would be out of Europe completely.

The seedings for the 2nd Qualifying Round are listed below.  The sides in blue and italics enter at the 1st Qualifying Round, and could therefore be replaced by the unseeded sides from that round (see the list above).

CL2

This draw is often split into north/south regional sections for UEFA, but these are often not released publicly until after the draw.  If that is the case, Celtic’s likely opponents would be Hafnafjordur, TNS, Sligo Rovers, EB Streymur (or QR1 opponents), Cliftonville, Daugava Daugavpils, Nomme Kalju or Fola Esch.

3rd Qualifying Round

Matches: 30th/31st July & 6th/7th August

The 17 winners from the 2nd Qualifying Round will joined by FC Basel, APOEL Nicosia and Austria Vienna (the champions of the nations ranked 14th-16th by UEFA.  This round will be drawn before the 2nd Qualifying Round is complete, so again UEFA will assume that the seeded sides from the 2nd Qualifying Round win when deciding seedings for this round.  If Celtic make it through, they are guaranteed to be seeded for the 3rd Qualifying Round.

Should Celtic lose at this stage, they would drop down into the Europa League Play-off Round.

The seedings for the 3rd Qualifying Round are listed below.  The clubs in blue and italics are the seeded sides from the 2nd Qualifying Round – if these sides lose in that round, they will be replaced by the side who beat them, but the seeding would be unchanged.

CL3

Play-off Round

Matches: 20th/21st August & 27th/28 August

The 10 winners from the 3rd Qualifying Round will progress to this round.  Celtic are guaranteed to be seeded if they make it to this round, and are guaranteed to avoid FC Basel, BATE Borisov, Steaua Bucharest and APOEL Nicosia should those sides progress.  They could potentially face any of the other sides listed above.Should Celtic lose at this stage, they would drop down into the Europa League group stage.

Group Stage

Matches: 17th/18th September, 1st/2nd October, 22nd/23rd October, 5th/6th November, 26th/27th November & 10th/11th December

The group stage is obviously still a long way away for Celtic, though the seeding suggests they should get there.  If they do make it to the group stage, it is almost certain that they would be in Pot 4 (the lowest pot) for the group stage draw.  There is a theoretical chance of them being in Pot 3, but that would require a host of unlikely results across the qualification rounds.

St Johnstone FC in Europe 2013/14

St Johnstone will enter the 2nd Qualifying Round of this season’s Europa League after their 3rd place finish in last season’s SPL.  They will find out their opponents on Monday 24th June, when the draws for the first two qualifying rounds are drawn by UEFA, and their matches will take place on Thursday 18th and Thursday 25th July.

This will be the second consecutive season in Europe for the Perth side, and their fourth appearance overall.  All three previous appearances have come in the UEFA Cup/Europa League.  The Saints will be hoping to continue their proud record of being unbeaten at home in Europe, having played 6 matches.  The only other Scottish clubs with an unbeaten home record in Europe are Livingston (2 matches) and Falkirk (1 match).

St Johnstone

The countries and cities St Johnstone have visited on European trips.

Their first sojourn into Europe was in the 1971/72 season, where they met Hamburg in the 1st Round.   In the 1st leg they suffered a 2-1 defeat in West Germany, with Jim Pearson scoring their first ever European goal.  In the return leg at Muirton Park, nearly 15,000 fans witnessed a sensational 3-0 victory which took the Perth side through.  In Round 2, they defeat Vasas of Hungary 2-0 at home, and held on for a 1-0 defeat in Budapest to squeeze through on aggregate.  Round 3 saw them face Zeljeznicar Sarajevo, where after a 1-0 home win they were brought abruptly to earth with a 5-1 defeat in what was then Yugoslavia.

The Saints had to wait 28 years for a return to Europe, reaching the 1999/2000 UEFA Cup where they faced VPS Vaasa in the Qualifying Round.  They drew 1-1 in Finland, with Nathan Lowndes scoring a 2nd half equaliser, which put them in the driving seat for the 2nd leg, but they endured a nervy encounter at McDiarmid Park, with the tie not being sealed until Miguel Simao scored a very late double for a 2-0 win.  The 1st Round proper saw a glamour tie against an AS Monaco side which contained Fabien Barthez, Rafael Marquez, Willy Sagnol, Dado Prso, John Arne Riise, Ludovic Giuly and David Trezeguet.  While the supporters enjoyed their trip to Monte Carlo, their side suffered a 3-0 defeat in the 1st leg which put the tie beyond them.  The 2nd leg in Perth saw Saints preserving their unbeaten home record with an entertaining 3-3 draw.

Last season, Saints were drawn against Turkish side Eskisehirspor in the 2nd Qualifying Round (the same stage at which they enter this season).  A 2-0 defeat in Turkey left Steve Lomas and his side facing an uphill struggle, but a Gregory Tade header in the first half at McDiarmid Park gave Saints some hope going into half-time.  Unfortunately, Eskisehirspor scored just after half-time to put the tie beyond St Johnstone and deny them a glamour tie against Marseille.  The St Johnstone fans were given a warm welcome in Turkey, and reciprocated when Eskisehirspor fans visited Perth, and the bond between the clubs even extended to St Johnstone designing this season’s away strip in homage to the Turkish outfit.

2013/14 Europa League

Saints will enter the Europa League in the 2nd Qualifying Round, and would have to progress through three rounds to make it to the group stage.  Tommy Wright’s side will be unseeded in the draw on Monday, making their task a great deal tougher.  Due to the short turnaround between the ties, the draws for both the 1st and 2nd Qualifying Rounds of the Europa League will be made on the same day, so for the purposes of the 2nd Qualifying Round draw, UEFA assume that the seeded team will win each of the 1st Qualifying Round ties.  If any unseeded side wins in the 1st Qualifying Round, they would therefore assume the seeding of the side they beat.

All the information on seeding comes from Bert Kassies’ website, which is a must-read for anyone who is interested in how the competitions work.

1st Qualifying Round

Matches: 4th July & 11th July

Although Saints will not participate in this round, the draw format mentioned above means that they could end up being drawn against the (unknown) winners of one of these ties.

The list below shows the seedings for the 1st Qualifying Round.

EL1

2nd Qualifying Round

Matches: 18th July & 25th July

42 clubs, including St Johnstone and Hibs, will enter at this stage, and will be joined by 38 winners from the previous round.

As mentioned above, the 38 winners from the 1st Qualifying Round will be unkown at the time of the draw.  For the purposes of the 2nd Qualifying Round draw, UEFA assume that the seeded sides from the previous round will progress.

The list below shows the seedings for the 2nd Qualifying Round.  The teams listed in blue and italics are the seeded teams from the 1st Qualifying Round.  If these teams lose in the 1st Qualifying Round, they would be replaced by the team who beat them.

EL2

Hibernian FC in Europe 2013/14

Hibernian will enter the 2nd Qualifying Round of this season’s Europa League after finishing as runners up to CL-qualified Celtic in the Scottish Cup final.  They will find out their opponents on Monday 24th June, when the draws for the first two qualifying rounds are drawn by UEFA, and their matches will take place on Thursday 18th and Thursday 25th July.

This will be Hibs’ 23rd season taking part in European competition, which is one more than Edinburgh rivals Hearts.  It should, however, be noted that 7 of these appearances came in the Fairs Cup, which is not officially recognised by UEFA, and a further 3 appearances came in the Intertoto Cup.  Nonetheless, Hibernian have a proud history in European competition which they will be hoping to add to this year.  In total, they have played against sides from 21 different countries (or 22 if you include East Germany), as identified in the map below.  The nations coloured in light green have not been visited by Hibs, but were part of Yugoslavia when Hibs played there, while Switzerland is coloured in red because Hibs were drawn against Lausanne Sport in the 1960/61 Fairs Cup, but did not actually play against them after the Swiss side withdrew.

The countries Hibs have visited in European competition.

The countries Hibs have visited in European competition.

History

Hibs have played 86 matches in Europe, winning 38, drawing 17 and losing 31.  Their record at Easter Road is very impressive – they have won 64% of their European matches in Edinburgh (27 out of 42), and have only suffered 6 defeats.  Pat Stanton, Alan Gordon and Joe McBride are the club’s joint record European goalscorers – all three players managed 8 European goals.  Stanton also holds the record for the most European appearances for the club, playing 36 times in continental competition.  I intend to give a summary of Hibs’ history in European competition, but for those of you who want to find out more a complete list of their European results and line-ups can be found on the FitbaStats site (just select Europe from the drop down menu at the top).

It is fairly well known that Hibernian FC were the first Scottish side to participate in European competition when they took part in the inaugural European Cup in 1955/56, but what is less well known is that they didn’t actually qualify for the tournament on merit.  The initial tournament was not organised by UEFA, but rather by French newspaper L’Equipe, who invited teams based on their fanbase and prestige.  Indeed, only 7 of the 16 participants were champions of their own country.  Hibs had been champions of Scotland three times in the previous seven seasons, and despite finishing 5th in 1954/55 they were invited ahead of champions Aberdeen.

Hibs were given a tough looking tie against German champions Rot-Weiss Essen (who now languish in the fourth tier), and had to travel away from home for the first leg.  But in front of a crowd of just 5000 in Essen, Hibs dished out a 4-0 thumping, with two goals from Eddie Turnbull and one apiece from Lawrie Reilly and Willie Ormond.  It remains the only time a Scottish side have won a European Cup match in Germany.  The second leg at Easter Road finished 1-1 as Hibs cruised through to the quarter-finals.  Hibs came up against Swedish champions Djurgardens, and were again away from home first, but as it turned out they didn’t have far to travel – a frozen pitch in Sweden meant that the game was switched to Firhill.  Hibs conceded a very early goal (probably due to jetlag), but turned things around to record a 3-1 victory.  A few days later, they sealed their passage into the semi-finals with a 1-0 home win.

The semi-final saw Hibs face Stade de Reims, with the first leg away from home.  For the second round in a row, the match wasn’t actually played at their opponents’ home ground – instead it was played at Parc des Princes in Paris.  Hibs held out until the 67th minute, when the French side took the lead through Michel Leblond.  A 1-0 defeat wouldn’t have been too bad, but unfortunately Rene Bliard doubled Reims’ advantage with just a minute remaining to leave Hibs facing a massive uphill task in the second leg.  45,000 fans packed into Easter Road in the hope of seeing their side make the final, but Reims proved too strong, scoring midway through the second half to seal a 3-0 aggregate victory.  Reims would go on to lose 4-3 to Real Madrid in the final.  Hibs have yet to return to the European Cup.

Hibs’ next three European appearances also came via invitation, as they were asked to take part in the Fairs Cup which was at that time restricted to clubs which had hosted trade fairs.   In 1960/61, Hibs became the first Scottish side to take part in the tournament, and were drawn against Swiss side Lausanne Sport in Round 1.  Lausanne withdrew from the tournament, meaning Hibs reached the quarter-finals without playing a match.  They were given the daunting task of taking on Spanish champions Barcelona, who were simultaneously participating in that season’s European Cup, and would go on to lose to Benfica in the final of that tournament.

Hibs travelled to the Nou Camp two days after Christmas and it will come as no surprise that they conceded 4 goals, including a hat-trick for Hungarian star Sandor Kocsis.  Fortunately for Hibs, they also scored 4 times and took a 4-4 draw back to Edinburgh.  Hibs took an early lead in the second leg at Easter Road, but a goal from Eulogio Martinez and another from Kocsis saw them trail 2-1 at half-time, and it stayed that way until the 74th minute, when Tommy Preston equalised to level things up on the night and on aggregate, which would have taken the tie to a play-ff (there was no away goals rule back then).  But there was to be another twist with 5 minutes to go, when Hibs were awarded a penalty and Bobby Kinloch converted it to secure a famous victory and take Hibs into a second European semi-final where they would face Italian giants Roma.  The first leg at Easter Road finished 2-2, to leave a tough task over in Italy, but Hibs turned in another superb away performance to secure a 3-3 draw and take the tie to a play-off. The play-off venue was decided on the toss of a coin, which Hibs lost, so they returned to Roma’s Stadio Olimpico for a match which took place almost a month after the end of Hibs’ league season.  A lack of competitive match practice took its toll as Hibs were smashed 6-0 by the Italians, who went on to win the tournament.

The following season, Hibs were again invited into the Fairs Cup, but were knocked out by Red Star Belgrade in Round 2 after beating Portuguese side Belenenses. A year later, Hibs swatted aside representative sides from the cities of Copenhagen and Utrecht in the opening two rounds but eventual champions Valencia proved to be far too strong in the quarter-final – Hibs lost 5-0 in Spain before restoring some pride with a 2-1 home win in the second leg.  Hibs missed out on the tournament in the following two seasons as the places began to be dished out based on league finishes, but they returned in 1965/66 after a 4th placed finish in the previous season.  The first round draw gave them an immediate chance of revenge against Valencia, and a 2-0 win at Easter Road in the first leg put them in a strong position as they travelled to Spain.  However Valencia levelled things up with a 2-0 win in the Mestalla to set up a play-off, and with the coin toss unkind to them again, Hibs returned to Spain three weeks later and lost 3-0.

Hibs qualified for the Fairs Cup again in 1967/68 and after eliminating Porto 4-3 on aggregate in the first round, they were drawn against Napoli in Round 2.  A 4-1 defeat in Naples in the first leg seemed to put the tie beyond the Hibees, but instead Easter Road witnessed perhaps its greatest European night as Hibs put five goals past Italy legend Dino Zoff to win 5-0 and progress to a quarter-final tie against Leeds.  Scottish winger Eddie Gray scored the only goal at Elland Road as Leeds won 1-0 to leave the tie on a knife-edge ahead of the second leg in Edinburgh.  Colin Stein scored an early goal for Hibs, and the tie looked set for extra-time until Jack Charlton broke Hibs’ hearts with a goal three minutes from time.

Hibs would return to the competition a year later, beating Yugoslavian (now Slovenian) side Olimpia Ljubljana and East Germans Lokomotive Leipzig before being eliminated by Hamburg via the away goals rule (the first of three eliminations via this rule so far).  Hibs were again involved in the final season of the Fairs Cup in 1970/71, knocking out Malmo and Vitoria Guimaraes to set up a tie against Liverpool in the 3rd Round.  The English side would prove too strong for Hibs, winning 1-0 at Easter Road and 2-0 at Anfield.

The 1972/73 season saw Hibs make their only appearance in the Cup Winners’ Cup.  Hibs, of course, haven’t won the Scottish Cup since 1902, but qualified for the tournament in exactly the same way that they qualified for this year’s Europa League – they lost the Scottish Cup final to champions Celtic, who qualified for the European Cup.  Hibs went goal crazy at Easter Road in the tournament, recording a 6-1 win over Sporting Lisbon (7-3 agg) and a 7-1 win over Albanian side Besa Kavaje (8-2 agg) to reach the quarter-final, where they beat Hajduk Split 4-2 in the first leg at home.  Hibs looked to be a in strong position to reach the semis, but were beaten 3-0 in Yugoslavia (now Croatia) to suffer a 5-4 aggregate defeat.  That would be the last of five European quarter-final appearances, and indeed the last time they progressed through more than one round of a European competition.

That Cup Winners Cup appearance was the first of five straight seasons in Europe for Hibs – their longest run of consecutive appearances.  They played in the UEFA Cup every season between 1973/74 and 1976/77, but failed to progress beyond the second round in any of them.  In 1973/74, Icelandic side Keflavik were swept aside, but Hibs were knocked out by old foes Leeds United on penalties at Easter Road after two 0-0 draws.  The following season, Norwegian side Rosenborg were spanked 12-3 on aggregate (including a 9-1 win at Easter Road), but in the next round Hibs were on the receiving end of a thumping, losing 8-2 on aggregate to Italian giants Juventus.

The 1st Round draw was unkind in 1975/76 – Hibs were drawn against Liverpool,  and despite a 1-0 win at Easter Road in the first leg, they were knocked out after losing 3-1 at Anfield.  Liverpool went on to win the tournament.  A year later, French side Sochaux were narrowly beaten, but Hibs suffered a surprise defeat to Swedish side Osters in the next round, losing 4-3 on aggregate despite having won the first leg 2-0 at home.  Hibs would return to Europe a couple of years later, playing in the 1978/79 UEFA Cup.  They avenged their Swedish demons by beating IFK Norkopping in the 1st Round, but Strasbourg knocked them out in Round 2.

Hibs’ fortunes declined domestically, and it would be over a decade (including a season in the first division) before they returned to Europe, qualifying for the 1989/90 UEFA Cup after finishing 5th in the Premier Division.  Hungarians Videoton were beaten home and away in the 1st Round to set up a 2nd Round tie with Belgian side RFC Liege.  After 0-0 draw at Easter Road, the match in Belgium was also goalless after 90 minutes, taking the tie to extra time, where this wonderstrike from Jean-Francois De Sart knocked them out.  Hibs would again face Belgium opposition in their next European appearance – they faced Anderlecht in the 1992/93 UEFA Cup after qualifying as League Cup winners.  A 2-2 draw at Easter Road (featuring a goal from Peter van Vossen) left Hibs facing an uphill task in Brussels, and despite Darren Jackson’s equaliser they drew 1-1 to go out on the away goals rule (jump to the start of the video for a Sportscene preview of the 2nd leg).

They would not return to Europe until the 2001/02 UEFA Cup, where Alex McLeish’s side were given a tough tie against AEK Athens.  Hibs looked to be out after losing 2-0 in Greece, but two Paco Luna goals in the second half pulled Hibs back level.  Unfortunately for Luna, his two goals were overshadowed by this miss in stoppage time which would have won them the tie.  Instead, AEK scored twice in extra time to kill off the tie before David Zitelli scored a goal which was mere consolation in terms of the tie, but did at least win Hibs the match on the night.

Three years later, Hibs appeared in yet another different competition, the Intertoto Cup.  The tournament was not particularly popular amongst Scottish clubs, mainly because it was held during the summer and meant a very early start to pre-season, but it provided a route into the UEFA Cup.  Scottish clubs only took part in the tournament 5 times, and 3 of those appearances came from Hibs.  The 2004/05 campaign would provide Tony Mowbray with his first matches in charge of Hibs.  After a 1st round bye, Hibs came up against Lithuanian side FK Vetra in Round 2.  Garry O’Connor salvaged a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Easter Road, but Hibs were knocked out after an error from teenage goalkeeper Alistair Brown (who had made his debut in the first leg) handed Vetra the only goal in Vilnius.

Hibs qualified for the UEFA Cup the following year, but were thumped 5-1 by Ukranian side Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in the 1st Round after a 0-0 draw at Easter Road.  In 2006/07, they returned to the Intertoto Cup, and dispatched Latvians Dinaburg 8-0 on aggregate in Round 2 to set up a tie against Danish side Odense, managed by former Scotland international Bruce Rioch.  Hibs lost 1-0 in Denmark, and fell a further goal behind just after half-time at Easter Road.  Goals from Rob Jones and Paul Dalglish levelled things up, but Hibs couldn’t find that third goal and lost out on away goals.

Hibs took part in the Intertoto Cup again in its final season, 2008/09, and only had to win one tie to make it to the UEFA Cup, but they were beaten home and away by Swedish side Elfsborg, going out 4-0 on aggregate.  Their most recent foray into European competition came in the 2010/11 Europa League, where they were drawn against Slovenian side NK Maribor.  Hibs were thumped 3-0 in Slovenia before suffering a 3-2 defeat at Easter Road despite an Edwin de Graaf double.  They will be hoping to avoid a similar humiliation this time around.

2013/14 Campaign

Hibs will enter the Europa League in the 2nd Qualifying Round, and would have to progress through three rounds to make it to the group stage.  Pat Fenlon’s side will be unseeded in the draw on Monday, making their task a great deal tougher.  Due to the short turnaround between the ties, the draws for both the 1st and 2nd Qualifying Rounds of the Europa League will be made on the same day, so for the purposes of the 2nd Qualifying Round draw, UEFA assume that the seeded team will win each of the 1st Qualifying Round ties.  If any unseeded side wins in the 1st Qualifying Round, they would therefore assume the seeding of the side they beat.

All the information on seeding comes from Bert Kassies’ website, which is a must-read for anyone who is interested in how the competitions work.

1st Qualifying Round

Matches: 4th July & 11th July

Although Hibs will not participate in this round, the draw format mentioned above means that Hibs could end up being drawn against the (unknown) winners of one of these ties.

The list below shows the seedings for the 1st Qualifying Round.

EL1

 

2nd Qualifying Round

Matches: 18th July & 25th July

42 clubs, including Hibs and St Johnstone, will enter at this stage, and will be joined by 38 winners from the previous round.

As mentioned above, the 38 winners from the 1st Qualifying Round will be unkown at the time of the draw.  For the purposes of the 2nd Qualifying Round draw, UEFA assume that the seeded sides from the previous round will progress.

The list below shows the seedings for the 2nd Qualifying Round.  The teams listed in blue and italics are the seeded teams from the 1st Qualifying Round.  If these teams lose in the 1st Qualifying Round, they would be replaced by the team who beat them.

EL2

 

Kilmarnock FC Takeover

Apologies for putting something of a more “personal” nature on here, but I couldn’t be bothered starting up another blog for the sake of a single piece.  Many of you will know that I’m a Kilmarnock supporter and that the club is currently embroiled in a takeover saga.  The intention of this piece is to raise some questions in the hope that some journalists will read it and ask the current chairman and the potential buyer.  I’m not in a position to ask these questions, but hopefully some of my followers are.

Questions for Michael Johnston

Michael Johnston is currently the Kilmarnock chairman and has come under fire from his own support after making a number of unpopular decisions during his tenure.  Matters were brought to a head by the recent sacking of popular manager Kenny Shiels.

  • On numerous occasions, you have claimed that you would be willing to sell the club if you received “a credible offer”.  What constitutes a credible offer in your eyes?  How much would you be willing to sell the club for, and what safeguards for the future of the club would be required?
  • You purchased the club for £1 in 2005.  Assuming your definition of a “credible offer” is a substantial amount more than that, what do you feel you have done to deserve to make such a large profit?
  • The club’s recent statement regarding Marie Macklin’s approach for the club claimed that her approach was “lacking in vision”.  What is your “vision” for the football club?
  • In your first season as chairman, the club had an average home attendance of 7071.  Last season the average attendance was 4647, a drop of almost 35%.  Do you feel that you are in any way responsible for this decline, and what steps are you taking to attempt to turn it around and attract supporters back?
  • Although you have reduced the club’s debt substantially – primarily via the sale of assets including land and players – the club still owes in excess of £9m.  What is your long-term plan to reduce this debt?
  • The majority of the club’s debt is owed to the bank.  How much control do the bank have over the day-to-day running of the club?  Would the bank have any influence over your decision to sell the club?
  • You claimed in a recent newspaper interview that you are saving the club the salaries of a chief executive and a financial director plus that of a general manager for the hotel.  What experience do you have in any of those roles?  What successful initiatives have you implemented during your time carrying out those roles?
  • In recent years, the club’s youth system has flourished, with players capped by Scotland at all levels from U15 right up to the senior squad over the past season.  Do you recognise the massive contribution which Kenny Shiels made to that youth system?
  • You have recently claimed that the club is proud of its youth system.  Isn’t it the case that you planned to scrap that youth system in 2005 and that it was only continued thanks to a campaign from supporters who raised funds to keep it going?  Do you now agree that you were wrong to have planned to scrap it?
  • You held a “consultation” on how the club should vote on the application of the Rangers “newco” to the SPL, and chose to abstain from the vote, claiming that 36% of “stakeholders” voted No.  Can you confirm that the 36% figure came from the total number of questionnaires sent out and not the actual number of responses?
  • You have regularly called dissenting supporters “a small minority”.  Do you feel that the vast majority of Kilmarnock supporters are happy with you as chairman?  Do you have any evidence to back this opinion up?

Questions for Marie Macklin

Marie Macklin is a local property developer who made a bid for the club in 2003 and made a further approach to Michael Johnston in September 2012.

  • Do you have a genuine intest in buying Kilmarnock FC in its current form, without the need for the club to go into adminstration first?
  • The club released a statement which claimed that you planned to demolish Rugby Park for housing and move the club to a new home on the site of the old Johnny Walker plant, which the club would not own.  Is this the case?
  • Do you have a business plan in place for the short, medium and long term future of Kilmarnock FC if you take over?
  • How would you set about dealing with the club’s debt if you were in charge of the club?  Would you make any personal investment towards reducing that debt?
  • Why did it take you so long to go public on your intention to purchase Kilmarnock FC?  Why did you choose to make that information public by having a statement read out by the supporters’ club rather than making the statement yourself?
  • Would Kilmarnock FC become a subsidiary company of Klin Group if you took over the club?
  • What would your plans be for the Park Hotel if you took over the club?
  • Do you have any plans to have supporter representation on the board if you take over?