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What Dundee United require to secure European football as Rangers v Hearts Scottish Cup final opens pathway

A Europa Conference League place is there for the taking
A Europa Conference League place is there for the taking

Dundee United have attained top six football.

Now the challenge is to bring electric European nights back to Tannadice.

Charlie Mulgrew described the prospect as amazing, while Ross Graham is aiming to realise a boyhood dream after attending United’s last continental clash as an 11-year-old fan.

The Tangerines sit in fourth spot with 41 points, just one point ahead of Ross County and Motherwell.

So, exactly what do United require in order to ensure European football for the first time since 2012?

If Dundee United finish 4th

With Celtic, Rangers and Hearts scampering away in the distance, fourth spot is the Tangerines’ target.

Hibs have a part to play in the Euro shake-up

United would enter the Europa Conference League at the third qualifying round.

That would see the Terrors’ 2022/23 campaign begin on August 4.

If Dundee United finish 5th

Hibs’ defeat against Hearts in the Scottish Cup semi-final means fifth place in the Premiership is enough to secure a Europa Conference League second qualifying round berth.

The Jambos will face Rangers in the Hampden final on May 21. With both clubs assured European qualification via their league position, Scotland’s final European place goes to the team in fifth.

However, it would represent an early start to the 2022/23 campaign, with their first continental fixture on July 21 — a fortnight before the team which finishes fourth.

‘A fresh start’

Courts, meanwhile, is seeking to embark on a European adventure as a manager — having missed the opportunity to dust off his passport as a player.

A youthful Courts at the start of Livingston’s magnificent 2001/02 season

The United gaffer was on the books of Livingston when they secured a spot in the 2002/03 UEFA Cup. However, with first team chances scarce with the Lions, he made the decision to leave the club.

“I was a young professional as part of the Livingston first-team squad,” recalled Courts. “In our first season back in the Premiership, they ended up finishing third.

“We had a really talented squad with the likes of David Fernandez. We probably took the league by surprise that season, by how good we were.

“We qualified for Europe but I left Livingston before that happened.  I had been at the club for such a long time — since I was 12. And I was almost 21.

“I had been on loan at Cowdenbeath and we had a bit of success.

“I still had two years left on my contract at Livingston and they wanted to keep me but sometimes in life you just need to be honest and look for a fresh start.”

How do Dundee United compare with Motherwell and Ross County ahead of three-way European shootout?

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