Motherwell qualify for the Champions League for the first time

Scottish Premier League club Motherwell are celebrating after securing Champions League football for the first time in their history. Dundee United’s 5-0 defeat to Rangers on Wednesday means the Steelmen can’t be caught in third place and with second-placed Rangers ineligible for European football next season due to their ongoing financial problems, the Fir Park club will take Scotland’s second spot in European football’s elite tournament alongside SPL champions Celtic.

"The fans can start getting the passports out and looking ahead to what might be some great times ahead," said manager Stuart McCall. “It’s been a huge achievement, mainly from the players and the staff. To get 61 points with two games to go is a new record for Motherwell in the SPL, so overall it’s been quite an achievement.

"Our consistency levels have been great. The players have been outstanding and we've been fortunate with injuries. We also had good continuity since we managed to keep most of the players from last season, which will be difficult to do next season.”

Once Rangers' non-participation is officially confirmed, Motherwell will go into the non-champions section of the draw at the third qualifying round stage and could face teams such as Dinamo Kiev or Braga. Two seasons ago, the Lanarkshire side played two qualifying rounds (beating Icelandic side Breidablik and Norwegian team Aalesunds FK in the process)  in the Europa League before losing out to Danish outfit Odense.

Striker Michael Higdon, who scored the only goal in Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Hearts, is relishing the prospect of Champions League football at Fir Park next season.

"It would be Motherwell fans' wildest dreams getting to the Champions League,” he said. "Over the course of the year we have thoroughly deserved it. We have been third all year. If you ask every manager in the SPL, they would say we deserved it. I'm just delighted for the fans and the lads. We have worked so hard all year. I'm just made up."