In March, I speculated about which Scottish soccer clubs would qualify for European competition. As expected, Celtic, Aberdeen and Hearts took the top three places, and as expected, Celtic took the sole Scottish Champions League berth. This is all good. With their new manager, Celtic has a chance to make a run, and the other two sides have enough resources to win a few rounds if luck falls their way.
It's the other place that is kind of weird. The top three clubs are guaranteed European places, along with the Scottish Cup winner. If, as often happens, the Scottish Cup winner is in the top three, the fourth place team goes too. Well, this year, the Scottish Cup final was contested between the two biggest clubs not already in the top three...Rangers and Hibernian, both of whom played this year in the second-tier Scottish Championship.
Now that would not have necessarily messed up the European places. With both teams contending for promotion, a big-time newly-promoted club would have the resources to compete in Europe. Rangers won the Championship comfortably, and I'm sure they would have loved to give their supporters European football to go with their first first-tier competition in four years.
But...things didn't work out that way. After losing the Premiership playoff, Hibs managed to lift the Scottish Cup for the first time in 114 years. A great story, certainly, but not the best thing for the UEFA coefficient. Hibs will be spending their third year in the Championship. They absolutely have to get out, and so they will be focusing on that rather than a European competition that doesn't give them much hope. Despite their large fan base, their resources will be constrained by being a second-tier club, so I can't imagine they'll be able to compete seriously.
Still, with three out of four high-resource teams, there's hope that Scotland will have enough success to halt the slide in their UEFA coefficient.