Second chance for Scottish runners-up

UEFA have confirmed the Clydesdale Bank Premier League runners-up will get a second crack at Europe next season if they lose their opening Champions League qualifier.

Rangers’ European adventure ended in August this term after their shock second qualifying round defeat to FBK Kaunas.

But if the same thing were to happen next season, the beaten club will drop into the new Europa League, which is replacing the UEFA Cup.

It is not all good news for the SPL runners-up, however, as reaching the Champions League group phase is set to become a lot tougher.

Second qualifying round opponents could include a top team from Holland, with sides from the Barclays Premier League lying in wait in third qualifying round.

There had been fears Scottish clubs’ poor performance in Europe so far this season could see the SPL champions lose their automatic qualifying spot.

But UEFA have confirmed Scotland in 10th place in their co-efficient rankings, meaning whoever wins the league title will continue to enjoy safe passage to the group phase.

Sides finishing third and fourth in the SPL will have the chance to reach the Europa League, with the latter entering at the second qualifying round stage and the former joining them one round later.

Should the SPL runners-up fail to reach the Champions League, they will also enter at the third qualifying round stage.

The Homecoming Scottish Cup winners – or possibly runners-up – will begin their European campaign in the final qualifying round.

The side who finish fourth in the SPL face a curtailed summer break, with the first leg of their second qualifying round tie scheduled for July 16 next year.

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