Hibs: Why the Scottish Cup win is so important for Europe - over £2.5m prize money, Liverpool, Juventus, Real Betis possible opponents

Hibs will return to Europe next season after a two-year absence but it is still to be decided which tournament they will enter.

By Joel Sked
Friday, 14th May 2021, 4:45 pm

Jack Ross’ men have the small matter of a Scottish Cup final against St Johnstone next week to determine which Uefa competition they will compete in.

It is an exciting time for supporters with possible celebrations then a European adventure to look forward to.

Here is all you need to know about Hibs and next season’s European competition:

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What is to be decided?

The Easter Road side will either enter the Europa League or the brand new Conference League.

What is the Conference League?

Not the most attractive of tournament titles, Uefa’s tertiary competition has been designed to appeal to clubs from lesser nations, giving them an increased chance of European success and a prolonged run in the tournament, and makes the Europa League more of a Cup Winners' Cup.

Hibs will return to European football next season. Picture: SNS

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said: "There will be more matches for more clubs, with more associations represented in the group stages. There was a widespread demand by all clubs to increase their chances of participating more regularly in European competition."

What determines which tournament Hibs enter?

It's all about the Scottish Cup. Hibs have already secured third spot which guarantees them entry into the Conference League. But if they defeat St Johnstone at Hampden Park next Saturday they will be Scotland’s Europa League representative.

So the Hampden Park showpiece is important?

Well, obviously. Ii is vitally important, after all there is legendary cup success on offer.

But aside from a second Scottish Cup in the space of five years there are a number of benefits from a European and financial perspective.

What’s at stake?

If Hibs see off the Saintees they will qualify for the Europa League. Now this is where things get interesting for supporters. The team would be one tie played over two legs away from reaching the group stage.

Even if they fail to win their tie they will drop in the Conference League group stage, guaranteeing European football until Christmas.

When was the last time Hibs played European football beyond November?

The 1972-73 Cup Winners’ Cup. Hibs saw off Sporting CP and then Albania’s Besa Kavaje to reach the quarter-final where they lost 5-4 on aggregate to Hadjuk Split in the March.

How many games would they play by Christmas?

Providing they win the Scottish Cup they will play eight games. If they don’t and enter the Conference League they could play as many as 12.

When does the European adventure start?

This is dependent on which tournament Hibs enter and another one of the benefits of winning the Scottish Cup.

If Jack Ross’ men do lift the cup they won’t have to start until August 19, by which point they could have played three or four domestic games. However, with the Conference League Hibs would enter the second qualifying round which gets underway on July 22.

When is the draw?

For the Europa League play-off round it is August 2.

For the Conference League second qualifying round it is June 16.

Who could Hibs face in qualifying?

This isn’t straightforward. In the Europa League play-off there could well be some very good teams with an abundance of European experience in the draw.

Hibs will be a priority 1 team because they have qualified as cup winners. They could then face the winners of the Czech Cup or a team who has dropped from Champions League qualifying.

In the second qualifying round of the Conference League there are a whole host of options facing Hibs depending on teams qualifying from the first round or the way certain European leagues and cups finish.

Will Hibs be seeded?

So in the Europa League they will be a ‘priority team’. There isn’t any seeding involved.

In the Conference League it will again depend on who qualifies. At the moment, Hibs’ Uefa coefficient is 6.675. Aberdeen's is 7.500.

What about teams in the group stages?

Well then, now you are talking!

Hibs fans will be rubbing their hands at some of the names who could be coming to Easter Road or the exciting European trips they could get on depending on how restrictions around foreign travel improve.

Going by the latest standings from around the continent, the Europa League group stage could see Liverpool, Juventus, West Ham United, Lazio, Real Sociedad and Real Betis all in the draw with more big names possibly to join.

Any disappointment from losing in the Europa League play-off round could be tempered by the big names waiting in the Uefa Conference League with the likes of Spurs, Roma, Villarreal and Borussia Monchengladbach currently primed to go into the tournament.

How much are the group stages worth?

The Europa League group stage would bring in game-changing money for Hibs. Group stage participation in 2019-20 was worth €2,920,000 in prize money alone with each win earning €570,000 and each draw €190,000. Topping the group is worth €1,000,000 and finishing second is worth half of that. An additional €500,000 is awarded for reaching the last-32. On top of that you have broadcasting, ticket and sponsorship revenue which could also be sizeable.

It is yet clear how lucrative the Conference League could be.

Just out of curiosity, when and where are the finals?

Europa League – Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, Seville, Spain. May 18, 2022.

Conference League – Arena Kombëtare, Tirana, Albania, May 25, 2022.

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