Motherwell manager Stuart McCall has targeted a second-place finish this season because finishing as runners-up to champions Celtic should compensate for any losses incurred in the Europa League.
Motherwell lost out last year when they had to charter a flight to the Black Sea for their qualifying-round defeat to Russian side Kuban Krasnodar. Indeed, they have found profits hard to come by, in spite of earning a European place in five of the last six campaigns.
Facing clubs from Albania, Iceland, Romania and Wales has not proved to be lucrative for the Lanarkshire club but placement money could ease the pain if the luck of the draw goes against them this summer.
Motherwell will move a point clear of Aberdeen in second place if they can defeat Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Highlands tonight, with the Dons due to face Hearts at Tynecastle tomorrow.
The prospect of European has its own allure for manager Stuart McCall but, with the SPFL paying £1.68million to the team finishing second and £1.44m for third place, he is anxious to secure that extra revenue.
“It’s more about the prestige for the players and myself but, obviously, the financial aspect is important for the club,” said McCall.
“Our budget will reflect where we finish in the league this season. The difference between finishing second and fifth – and we could be in any of those places – is a significant amount [£240,000]. Where we finish will affect the players because, hopefully, we will be able to give them what they are looking for financially.”
Finishing second, as they did two seasons ago, would also offset any repeat of the loss-making Krasnodar trip. “That did have an impact,” said McCall. “It was probably the worst draw we could have got.
“But we’ve enjoyed the experiences we have had. It would be nice if we were in the position next season of talking about who we’ve got in Europe.”
Inverness Caledonian Thistle, in fifth, have won only once in their last eight games. John Hughes’ side is eight points behind Motherwell and McCall believes that an away victory would effectively end the Highlanders’ prospects of catching them.
“If we win, then yeah,” he said. “Mind you, in saying that, there will still be a lot of points to play for.
“We are all going to cut each other’s throats after the split. So it might be about whichever team can put two or three wins together. We are all capable of that.
“It’s still all to play for. I saw Yogi [Hughes] saying that this match was now a must-win for them but we are approaching it as a must-win for us as well.
“We face a very difficult game up there but we’ll go and try to be really positive. We were disappointed to lose in the manner we did [at home to Kilmarnock] on Saturday but there will be no hangover from that.
“If we finish in any European spot then I think this season will have been a success. But, while the opportunity is there, we have to strive to finish as high as we can.
“You hear Dundee United and Inverness talking about pushing Aberdeen all the way so we have to be in that mindset as well.”
Another benefit of a second-place finish is that Motherwell would then enter at the second qualifying round stage on 17 July while the club in third faces an extra qualifier, kicking off on 3 July.
“Are our boys playing for an extra fortnight off?” asked McCall. “That’s another way to look at it. The possibility of a longer holiday and maybe a couple more quid.”