By reaching the final Scottish Cup and finishing third in the cinch Premiership, Hearts have guaranteed group stage European football next season, and with it a minimum of eight matches.
The Jambos can now expect to be involved in the third and final Europa League play-off with a chance to qualify for the group stage of UEFA’s second tier club competition. Scotland’s improving coefficient means the losers are guaranteed a place in the group stage of third-tier Europa Conference League.
Next season's Europa League will pay out more than £3 million per team just for taking part. Europa Conference League groups are predicted to be worth around £2.7m. That’s before cash per point, ticket revenue and other spin-offs are taken into account. But Neilson said the club would invest the money wisely over a period of time in a bid to make sure they return to Europe year after year.
He explained: “It will make a difference. We're guaranteed money. But we've got to be careful how we spend that money. We don't want to chuck it all in. We want to try to build the club gradually over the next three or four years. What this will do is allow us to position ourselves to try and get in next year again. That's what we need to do. Gradually build the club over three, four, five years to get consistent European football and then try to challenge for the title.”