Hearts management say Scottish Cup's prestige is worth more than European cash carrot

Hearts players will enter Saturday’s Scottish Cup quarter-final with a pertinent message ringing in their ears from manager Robbie Neilson.

Friday, 11th March 2022, 7:00 am

He ranks the prestige of cup success higher than qualifying for Europe or any cash rewards from it, and is imploring the Tynecastle squad to aim for the trophy as they face St Mirren.

This season’s Scottish Cup winners are likely to secure guaranteed European group stage football next season in the Europa League or Europa Conference League, plus £3million just for taking part. However, Neilson is more concerned with the sense of achievement.

He pointed out that Hearts have only lifted the Scottish Cup only four times in living memory – 1956, 1998, 2006 and 2012. He feels the pride of bringing silverware back to Gorgie would outweigh any European or financial benefits.

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson at Riccarton.

“That doesn't influence it at all because it’s the Scottish Cup,” said Neilson. “The rewards we would get off the back of that are great but we want to win it. I'm not interested in how it gets you into Europe or what it does with Europe.

“Most managers and players will be the same, it's about winning the Scottish Cup. To win that you need to win on Saturday then the semi-final then the final. This is part of becoming a winner.

“How many Scottish Cups have we won here in the last 60-odd years? Four. There's only four Hearts teams who have won the Scottish Cup in that time. A lot of them have qualified for Europe.

“I spoke to the players about it. The season is about qualifying for Europe, brilliant, but you want to win something. You want to win the Scottish Cup. For me it's not got any influence on European football. It's about winning.”

The Hearts-St Mirren tie is live on BBC Scotland with an unusual 7.45pm kick-off time on a Saturday. Neilson welcomed the change to accommodate TV.

“I really like these kick-offs. We had a lot in the Championship last year,” he said. “Floodlights on at Tynecastle, it’s night time, I don’t think there is anything better. I think it’s great. It’s on TV so it’s good exposure for the Scottish Cup and the club.”

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