Hibs will win an eye-watering £2.5 million bonanza if boss Neil Lennon hits his target of making the group stages of the Europa League.
The Easter Road side qualified for the competition thanks to finishing fourth in the Premiership and will learn their opponents in the first qualifying round when the draw is made at UEFA’s headquarters in the Swiss city of Nyon on June 20. By qualifying, Hibs have already earned a payment of more than £200,000 and, as one of the seeded clubs, will be optimistic of progressing to the next round which would bring them a further £228,000.
However, Hibs would then be unseeded and, with the likes of Spanish outfit Seville, Besiktas of Turkey, the Czech Republic’s Sparta Prague and Steaua Bucharest of Romania – the top four clubs at that point – potential opponents, moving on to the third qualifying round, which brings a payment of £245,000, would be a major achievement.
Nevertheless, Lennon has stated he’s eyeing progress beyond the following play-off round and into the group phase which is when the serious money kicks in, the £2.56m pay-out for reaching that stage added to with huge bonuses of £438,000 for a win and £166,000 for a draw on offer in each of the six games.
Lennon has also acknowledged how difficult it would be to enjoy such riches, pointing out that the luck of the draw is an obvious factor while, as has so often proved the case in the past, Scottish teams have suffered coming up against clubs already well into their season while ours has yet to kick-off.
Lennon, though, was heartened by Hibs’ performance when they took part in the Europa League two years ago, his first matches as manager seeing them knocked out only on penalties by Danish outfit Brondby with the Easter Road boss convinced that had the tie come a few weeks later, the Capital club would have won.
He has stated: “We are going to take it round-by-round but my sights are to get in to the Europa League group stages. That would be a fantastic coup for the club. We are in it, we have earned the right to be in it and want more of it.
“We know how difficult it is historically for Scottish teams to get through, Basically we are just coming back so it is a big ask.”