Scottish clubs in Europe next season - what do we now know?

Conference League, Champions League and Europa League trophies
The format of Uefa's club competitions will all drastically change next season [Getty]

With the Premiership now cut in half and the Scottish Cup finalists confirmed, all top-six sides now know the lay of the land in the race for Europe.

Five places across three competitions are up for grabs, which means just one top-half team will miss out on continental action next season.

Here, BBC Scotland looks at the current state of play and drastic competition changes to keep in mind.

What's changed with Champions League?

In terms of qualification via the Premiership, nothing yet.

Just like last term, the league winners will bypass the qualifiers and go straight into the big time. Meanwhile, the runners-up will again have to navigate a third-round qualifier and play-off round.

That’s set to eventually change, though, after Scotland dropped out of Uefa’s top-10 coefficient rankings, meaning next season’s Premiership winners will not get a free pass straight into Champions League.

Another thing that’s set to change, and quite drastically, is the competition’s format.

From next term, 36 teams will feature in a single league and each club will play eight matches against eight different opponents, four at home and four away.

The top eight sides in the league will progress automatically to the last 16, while those in ninth through to 24th go into play-offs for a spot in the knockout stages.

Those 25th and below are out and will now not have the safety net of the Europa League, which will also have a similar format change along with the Conference League.

Okay, so what about third spot?

Scottish Cup semi-final weekend was not all bad for beaten Hearts, who are 11 points clear in third with five games to play.

Yes, their hopes of reaching the final were ended by a 2-0 win for Rangers, but Celtic’s mad penalty shootout triumph over Aberdeen means continental group-stage football - and a big bag of European prize money - is almost certainly heading to Tynecastle again next term.

This is where it gets a little confusing.

Given both Old Firm clubs have all but secured the top two spots, the prize of a Europa League play-off place for winning the Scottish Cup will now go to the Premiership’s third-placed team.

Hearts, permitting they seal third, would then be guaranteed a pass into the Conference League group stage even if they lose their Europa League play-off, just like they did in 2022-23.

And the format changes to Uefa’s club competitions next season would mean at least eight European games for the Tynecastle club to look forward to. Money in the bank.

And what about the rest?

There’s an extra Europa League place on offer this term.

That will go to whoever finishes fourth, which is very much Kilmarnock’s to lose, given their eight-point cushion, and they will enter at the second qualifying round.

It goes without saying, to reach the Europa League group stage from there will be an almighty ask, but there will be the safety net of a Conference League qualifier.

That leads us to the final spot, which has been nudged down to fifth place in the Premiership. St Mirren currently hold that position but are only two points ahead of Dundee.

Whoever secures fifth at the end of the season will go into Conference League qualifying at round two.

All clear? Lovely. Let a dramatic finale commence.