How much Hearts can make from Europe as Robbie Neilson cashes first check towards title dream

Having finished third, made the Scottish Cup Final and with Rangers their other opponent, Hearts are back in a European group stage for the first time since 2004.

The Jambos go in at the play-off round of the Europa League, where they’ll play a loser from the Champions League third round of qualifying.

Hearts fans, you probably know the script from memory by now – lose that and it’s a parachute job down into the Europa Conference League and six mouthwatering games leading all the way into the winter World Cup break.

Passports are getting looked out and beach balls are getting bounced around the stands.

But the added bonus is the cold, hard cash on offer no matter in which competition the Jambos end up that could help them tighten their grip on their European spot, building towards qualifying again next season and pulling away from chasing clubs such as Hibs and Aberdeen .

Manager Robbie Neilson had maintained for some time how big Saturday’s semi-final against Hibs was, even keeping celebrations to a minimum the previous week after winning the final league derby.

And after seeing off the Hibees 2-1 to book their return to Hampden and the golden group stage ticket, he said: “It will make a difference. We’re guaranteed money. But we’ve got to be careful how we spend that money.

“We don’t want to chuck it all in. We want to try to build the club gradually over the next three or four years.

“What this will do is allow us to position ourselves to try and get in next year again.

“That’s what we need to do. Gradually build the club over three, four, five years to get consistent European football and then try to challenge for the title.”

RecordSport takes a look at the money on offer.

taking part

Okay, worst case scenario. Hearts lose the play-off and then bow out of the Conference with nil points.

Every group stage participant gets a slice of the pie regardless of their results.

That’s worth €2.94m, around £2.44m.

Cammy Devlin

On the other hand, if Hearts win their play-off and make the Europa League group stage it’s €3.63m, or £3m give or take.

But we’re just getting started.

Total: £2,440,000

Four big Euro nights

The play-off is likely to be a big name and then the three group stage clashes sell themselves.

It’s same to assume we can expect a packed Tynecastle for all four guaranteed home games rather than past qualifiers against Infonet Tallinn and Birkirkara, which weren’t exactly half-empty but they were before the redevelopment of the Main Stand that boosted overall capacity.

Hearts’ last qualifier against the latter side – which ended disastrously as the Maltese minnows shocked Tynecastle with a 2-1 win – went on sale for £12 but you’d imagine it’ll be a category A affair and higher priced-tickets in the competition proper next term.

Hearts fans can look forward to European nights under the lights

It’s hard to define exactly how much each game will be worth but purely from a ticketing standpoint, you’re talking a likely sell-out of 19,000 four times over.

Hearts may decide to offer a bundle of all three home group games as often seen at Celtic and Rangers.

For example, Celtic opted to sell a three-match package for this season’s Europa League campaign at a price of £72 each for an adult, working out at £24 per game.

Not every Hearts fan would take up such an offer and there are concessions to account for too much but it’s useful to get a ballpark figure and taking off several thousand to allow for the one-off fans and a decent away end at every game you’re talking around 16,500 home fans.

If Hearts went for a similar price it would amount to £1,188,000 just for the three group stage games before hospitality, one-off purchases, away fans and all the other facets of matchday revenue.

Total: £3,628,000

Results dependent

Extra cash is dished out for every point won in the group stage of all three UEFA competitions.

Every 2021-22 group stage payment is as follows:

  • Every win in group stage: EL €630k (£522)/ECL €500k (£414k)
  • Every draw in group stage: EL €210k (£174)/ECL €166k (£137k)
  • Win group: EL €1.1m (£912k)/ECL €650k (£539k)
  • Group runners up: EL €550k (£456k)/ECL €325k (£269K)

Hearts will also earn a small share of the TV pool that is split between the participating clubs. That stood collectively at €23.5m this season.

There are of course even bigger prizes for progressing further into the knockout rounds but let’s take it one step at a time.

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It’s not outlandish to suggest Hearts could expect to pick up plenty of points from a Conference League group.

Adding on an extra million to their final checkout shouldn’t be out of the question as a realistic aim. Two wins and a draw lands £965k.

Teams such as HJK Helsinki (six points), Flora Tallinn (five), Omonia (four) and NS Mura (three) banked decent sums this term so there’s absolutely no reason for Hearts not to be aiming even higher and making a fist at the knockouts and that £269k for group runners up could be a great prize to aim for.

Total End: £4,862,000

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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