What Rangers' Scottish Cup exit means for Hibs in terms of Europe and finishing third
Since the beginning of the season, Hibs’ main aim has been to finish third and win a cup.
The Easter Road side was the first team to book a slot in the last four of the Scottish Cup, beating Motherwell on penalties on Saturday evening and while not yet home and hosed in third place with three games remaining they have a good chance of sealing that “best of the rest” spot ahead of nearest challengers Aberdeen.
With the new Europa Conference League starting next season, there are greater opportunities for clubs to qualify for European competition.
What competition can Hibs reach?
Rangers and Celtic will both enter the Champions League qualifying stages, with the winner of the Scottish Cup taking Scotland’s only Europa League slot.
With the Glasgow rivals eliminated from the competition, Hibs will have to lift the trophy themselves to directly qualify for the Europa League play-offs.
If they do, the team that finishes fifth will have a shot at qualifying for the Europa Conference League.
The benefit of entering the tournament at that stage is that the club has just one round to navigate before reaching the lucrative group stages.
The losers of the play-offs drop into the group stages of the Conference League, thus ensuring a run of European games until Christmas which, while not quite as money-spinning as the Europa League, would nevertheless be a welcome boost to the coffers.
What if Hibs don’t win the cup?
Hibs were joined in the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup by Dundee United and St Johnstone over the weekend, with one of Kilmarnock and St Mirren due to make up the final four.
With the Scottish Cup winners grabbing that Europa League play-off place, Hibs face a more difficult journey if they fail to replicate their 2016 success.
Even if they finish third, they will have to start their European campaign from the second qualifying round of the Europa Conference League if they don’t win the Scottish Cup – meaning they would have to progress through three rounds to reach the group stages.
Prize money aspect
Finishing third also brings the benefit of a sizeable chunk of prize money. Motherwell, who finished third at the end of the truncated 2019/20 campaign, received £2.06 million while fourth-placed Aberdeen picked up £1.8m.
Even without a Scottish Cup win, finishing third would still net Hibs around £250,000 more than fourth.