Monday, May 18, 2020

Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2020/21 Early Preview

I hadn't been posting on this subject, mainly because there aren't any games being played, but at least there is finally some news.

There is no plan yet for finishing the 2019/20 Europa League, so we don't know what will happen with the coefficient, as a result. Fortunately, those results affect the coefficient for the 2021/22 European season, so we are in no hurry to see those results. In the very unlikely event that Celtic or Rangers wins that competition, they will end up in the Group Stage of the 2020/21 Champions League. I'm going to ignore that possibility.

Scotland finally called off the 2019/20 Scottish Premiership, which settles the top 3 teams, who will get European places. Normally, the other European place goes to the Scottish Cup winner, or the 4th place team if the Scottish Cup winner is in the top 3. We don't yet know what's going to happen with the Scottish Cup, but...

The Telegraph is reporting that the top 4 clubs would end up with all 4 European places. (The only way this wouldn't have happened is if Hearts or Hibs managed to win the Scottish Cup.) The relevant rankings have Scotland at #20, so here is what to expect (if the 2020/21 Europa League takes place):
  1. Celtic enters in the first qualifying round of the Champions League. Presumably, recent Scottish success will mean this is the last year the Scottish champions enter so early.
  2. Rangers enters in the second qualifying round of the Europa League. Again, recent Scottish success should make this the last year where the Scottish second placed team/Scottish Cup winners enter so early. But it's better than last year, where they ended up entering in the first round!
  3. Motherwell enters in the first qualifying round of the Europa League. Scotland is on track to bump that to the second round for the following season.
  4. Abderdeen enters in the first qualifying round of the Europa league. Again, if Scotland does well enough (keeps its coefficient at 14 or 15), that will get bumped to the second round in future years.
The last time I looked at European places, those were the four most likely teams to make it. I am happy with all of them except Motherwell, a smaller club whose league success is unlikely to translate to Europe. But I am resigned to the idea that there will almost always be one smaller Scottish club in Europe. Stephen Robinson seems to be a good manager there, so they have a chance to steal a few fractional points for the coefficient if he stays on.