Thursday 9th June 2016
THE Scottish Challenge Cup is being expanded in season 2016/17 with the introduction of additional clubs from the Highland and Lowland Leagues, all Ladbrokes Premiership u20 teams and two representatives each from the Welsh Premier League and Northern Ireland Football League.
They will join the 30 Ladbrokes Championship, League 1 and League 2 teams to give an overall total of 54 competing in the exciting new competition format across seven rounds, with the majority of fixtures taking place during international weekend breaks.
In addition to the continued support from longstanding competition broadcaster BBC ALBA, the SPFL has also secured new broadcast deals with S4C and Premier Sports to cover selected fixtures live during next year’s Scottish Challenge Cup.
The competition’s new format was devised and approved by the SPFL Board and UEFA following recommendations made by the SPFL Competitions Working Group, which comprises representatives of member clubs across the leagues.
Neil Doncaster, SPFL Chief Executive, said: “This is another exciting day for Scottish football with the announcement of this exciting new format of the Scottish Challenge Cup demonstrating further innovation and forward-thinking for the game in this country.
“The introduction of Ladbrokes Premiership u20 teams will give young players a taste of competitive football at senior level, while extending the number of Highland and Lowland League clubs taking part further strengthens the pyramid system and their place within Scottish professional football.
“We are also very pleased to be supported by UEFA in delivering an element of cross-border competition through the invitation to our colleagues in Northern Ireland and Wales which brings a completely new dimension to the Challenge Cup and the levels of excitement and interest in it.”
The Scottish Challenge Cup was established for season 1990/91 to mark the Scottish Football League’s centenary and has been run every year since (with the exception of 1998/99).
A snapshot of the new format for the 2016/17 Scottish Challenge Cup is as follows:
• Round 1 (August) – 28 teams: 12 x Ladbrokes Premiership u20 teams, 8 x Ladbrokes League 2 teams, 4 x Highland League teams, 4 x Lowland League teams
• Round 2 (August) – 24 teams: 14 x Round 1 winners, remaining 2 x Ladbrokes League 2 teams, 8 x Ladbrokes League 1 teams
• Round 3 (September) – 24 teams: 12 x Round 2 winners, 10 x Ladbrokes Championship teams, remaining 2 x Ladbrokes League 1 teams
• Round 4 (October) – 16 teams: 12 x Round 3 winners, 2 x Northern Ireland Football League teams, 2 x Welsh Premier League teams
• Quarter-finals (November): 8 x winners from Round 4
• Semi-finals (February): 4 x winners from Quarter-finals
• Final (March): 2 x winners from Semi-finals
Draws will be regionalised throughout the competition, and seeded from Rounds 1-3 only. During Rounds 1-3 inclusive up to two matches per round will be shown live (one by BBC ALBA and one by Premier Sports) with a number of options available to all three broadcasters from Round 4 onwards (at which stage BBC ALBA, S4C and Premier Sports will all show live matches).
Read more at SPFL Website