Aberdeen will play in the Europa Conference League group stage following Thursday’s Europa League play-off defeat to Swedish champions BK Hacken – and we now know which clubs they could land when the groups are drawn on Friday.
The Swedish champions’ 3-1 victory at Pittodrie meant they won the play-off tie 5-3 on aggregate to progress to the Europa League groups, leaving Barry Robson’s Dons to drop down into European football’s third-tier competition.
Despite their Europa League disappointment against the Swedes, the Reds will still receive the sizeable financial boost which comes with Continental group-stage action, as well as at least six more European matches this season which will take them all the way up to Christmas.
Though it may have been a frustrating Thursday night, on Friday morning Aberdeen’s players, staff, directors and supporters will be looking ahead to the Conference League draw and the prospect of landing a tasty (albeit, slightly less glamorous) group.
Who could Dons face in Conference League groups, and when/where is the draw?
The draw for the Conference League group stage will take place on Friday at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco, and is scheduled to begin at 1.30pm.
There will be 32 teams in the draw: 10 are losers from the 10 Europa League play-off ties which concluded on Thursday (including Aberdeen), and the other 22 came through the Conference League’s own play-off round ties, which also concluded on Thursday.
The clubs are split into four pots, with pot one containing the eight sides with the highest Uefa ranking points, and pot four containing the eight clubs with the fewest.
Aberdeen will be in pot four.
In the draw, they will be paired with one side from each of pot one, pot two and pot three to form a group of four – one of eight groups in total.
Handily, the excellent @UefaRankings on X (formerly known as Twitter) have compiled a graphic showing who the 32 teams who have qualified for the Conference League group stage are, and which pot they will be in for Friday’s draw:
Here are all 32 participants of the Europa Conference League group stage.
Group stage draw will be made on Friday, 1 September at 14:30 CET.
Fixtures will most likely be released on Saturday morning. pic.twitter.com/CDmmAKceHF
— UEFA Rankings (@UefaRankings) August 31, 2023
Potential Conference League group line-ups Aberdeen could face include…
Eintracht Frankfurt/Aston Villa/Besiktas/Aberdeen
Dinamo Zagreb/Slovan Bratislava/HJK Helsinki/Aberdeen
There are certainly plenty of combinations where the football and the trips will excite the Red Army.
The Dons will play each group-mate home and away, with the games scheduled to take place over six Thursday nights: September 21, October 5, October 26, November 9, November 30 and December 14.
Fixture dates and location will be confirmed by this weekend.
What are the financial rewards for the Europa Conference League?
Without spending too much time on these details, the financial rewards for Conference League group stage qualification, and wins/draws therein, are slightly lower than for the Europa League – although they remain significant for a Premiership club with Aberdeen’s turnover.
There had been discussion among some Dons fans about whether it might be more lucrative to drop into the Conference League, with what they view as a better chance of picking up points from group games than there would be in the Europa League.
That remains to be seen, but here are the cash rewards for the Conference League groups:
Europa Conference League groups: Qualification – £2.55 million. Group stage win – £430,000. Draw – £140,000.
Coefficient ranking and broadcast payments are the same as for the Europa League.