The Tynecastle club, like most Scottish teams, tend to play their European games in mid-to-late July and, if they’re lucky, into early August before ultimately falling short of the group-stage promised land.
That won’t be the case in Gorgie next season with Hearts going straight into the play-off round for the Europa League. Should they fail there is still a place in the groups of the Europa Conference League, the third-tier European competition which was introduced last season and won by Roma, thereby guaranteeing them eight games on the continent.
Just as the Europa League games are played on a Thursday, so are Conference League matches. With three days required between games for player rest, it means a lot of Saturday fixtures involving the Jambos in the cinch Premiership will have to be moved to the Sunday.
By taking the league fixtures released today and corresponding them with the dates for European games, we discover which games will be getting moved to the Sunday. For the Europa League two-legged play-off the matches are Celtic away on August 20 and St Johnstone at home on August 27.
Matchday one of either the Europa League or Europa Conference League groups will be September 8 with matchday two occurring a week later. That will move the home game with St Mirren on September 10 and the trip to Motherwell on September 17.
All three of Hearts’ away games in October will be moved. These are Kilmarnock (8th), Aberdeen (15th) and Ross County (29th). They also host Celtic and Rangers in what is going to be a tough month.
The final fixture to be moved will be Motherwell at Tynecastle on November 5.
It’s sure to be a stern test of the Hearts squad as they look to consolidate third place and put themselves in the best possible position to receive similar European rewards again next term.
Neilson and sporting director Joe Savage are currently hard at work looking to add to last season’s unit with the signings of Alan Forrest, Kye Rowles and Lewis Neilson being made so far.