Huge change in Hearts' European placing after Celtic knock Aberdeen out of the Scottish Cup

Hearts have had a European updateHearts have had a European update
Hearts have had a European update
The Edinburgh club will earn a massive reward if they hold on to third place in the Premiership

Hearts’ European prospects gained a huge boost as Celtic knocked Aberdeen out of the Scottish Cup.

The first semi-final at Hampden Park ended in victory for the Glasgow club, who won 6-5 on penalties following a pulsating 3-3 draw. They will now meet either Rangers or Hearts in the final on 25 May.

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Aberdeen’s exit from the competition means only one of three teams can now lift the trophy. Hearts are eager to claim their first silverware in 12 years and with it the coveted Europa League play-off spot which is assigned to Scotland’s cup winners.

Victory in that two-legged tie secures a place in next season’s Europa League group stage, whilst defeat carries a parachute into the Conference League groups. Either way, a minimum £5m income is guaranteed and Hearts are now firm favourites to grasp that reward.

They currently sit third in the Premiership table, holding an 11-point advantage over fourth-placed Kilmarnock with five games remaining. Should Celtic or Rangers lift the Scottish Cup, the aforementioned European place would go to the team finishing third in the league. This is because Celtic and Rangers would both secure Champions League slots as a result of finishing in the top two.

Third place alone permits entry into the Europa League’s second qualifying round this summer, but Hearts will jump two rounds into the play-off provided they hold on to their current league position.

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The Edinburgh club benefitted from this rule in 2022 when they lost the Scottish Cup final to Rangers but entered the Europa League at the play-off round. They lost over two legs to the Swiss champions FC Zurich and dropped into the Conference League groups. They took on Italian giants Fiorentina, Istanbul Basaksehir of Turkey and the Latvian champions RFS, earning more than £5m in the process.

Aberdeen’s cup exit also means that the club finishing fifth in the Premiership will gain entry into European competition next season. The league winners go into the Champions League groups, whilst the runners-up start in the tournament’s third qualifying round. Third place gets the Europea League play-off spot, fourth now takes the space in the Europa’s second qualifying round, and fifth will play in the second qualifying round of the Conference League.

With Kilmarnock fourth, St Mirren fifth and Dundee sixth, the race is on to see which two of the three can qualify for Europe.