What Scottish Cup return could mean for Hibs' European hopes
The revival of this season’s Scottish Cup competition could rob the league’s third-placed finishers of a more attractive European qualification route but Hibs manager Jack Ross said it will do nothing to dilute his team’s desire to hold onto that position.
The Scottish Cup, unless won by one of the top two teams in the Premiership, would earn the victors passage into the final play-off round of the Europa League. With the losers of those ties dropping into the new Uefa Conference League it would guarantee them European football until at least December.
With the knockout competition suspended due to the impact of the national lockdown on lower league teams, that prize looked likely to pass to the league third best team.
With news that the tournament will restart, the only way for that scenario to play out is for either Rangers or Celtic to bag the trophy or for the Easter Road side to repeat the feat of 2016 and lift the cup themselves.
“Even when it looked like the cup wouldn’t get played it never really incentivised us any more. It didn’t put any more pressure on us or change the want. The target to finish there has been the same from day one of pre-season.”
But, with their postponed league match against Ross County rearranged for one of the original dates earmarked for Scottish Cup ties, Ross said the priority is now finalising the new schedule.
“I have said all along that I would much rather that the competition was played this season but if we are going to play then they need to announce the details pretty sharpish and let us know when these fixtures are to be played.
“I do think there is room to fit them in because the last part of the season is quite elongated and there is space but I think the teams need to know as soon as possible what that looks like and not just the next round but all the rounds after that so that we can plan ahead.”
Hibs are due to face Queen of the South in their third round tie.