Hibs or St Johnstone may no longer have guaranteed group-stage football as Uefa shift goalposts
A Scottish Cup final triumph for either Hibs or St Johnstone may no longer guarantee group-stage football in European competition next season.
It had been expected that the winners of Saturday’s match at Hampden Park would gain entry into the Europa League play-off round, which would guarantee a group-stage place of some description with losers dropping into the newly formed Europa Conference League.
However, Uefa have made a late alteration to the access list and the Scottish Cup triumph will now only be good enough for the third qualifying round of the Europa League, with losers then dropping into the Conference League play-offs.
The could be a significant blow to whichever team emerges victorious at the weekend as eight guaranteed matches, along with prize money, would’ve meant at least a £3 million windfall for either side.
There is still a possibility it can happen. If either Chelsea win the Champions League or Villlarreal the Europa League and qualify for the latter competition through their own domestic league, then the Scottish Cup winners would be bumped up again to the play-off round. Chelsea are currently fourth in the English Premier League and face rivals Manchester City in the UCL final later this month. Villarreal are in seventh in La Liga, one place out of the Europa League spots, but are level on points with Real Betis in sixth and a point behind Real Sociedad in fifth with one match to play. They face Manchester United in the Europa League final on May 26.