This week has seen a re-invention of the Scottish League Cup.
Instead of the worldwide used format of draw teams to play against each other over 90 minutes where the winner advances to the next round we now have group stages, bonus points and important induction of highland and lowland league teams.
So here goes…
There are 8 stages of the revamped tournament:
- A new group stage format for the first round.
- 8 groups of 5 teams, playing each other once in round-robin format.
- Group games to take place on 16th, 20th, 23rd, 27th and 30th July.
- Group stage involves all 38 SPFL teams not involved in European qualifiers, plus winners of both Highland League and Lowland League.
- Group stage draw seeded and, where practicable, regionalised. 1 Premiership team in each group.
- Drawn matches in group stage go to penalty shoot-out, with bonus point for winners.
- 8 group winners and 4 best runners-up progress to 2nd round where they are joined by the 4 teams involved in European football.
- Straight knockout formula, as presently exists, from the round of 16 with no seeded draws.
But just what does it all mean?
It means Summer football first and foremost and with being Scottish, that is something required given recent Euro and World Cup qualifying campaigns.
It means a Winter break during January, a chance for pitches to stay in decent condition for the end of season push and break for smaller squads and part-time players.
The Scottish game needs change and has done for years, hopefully this will be a move in the right direction. Perhaps we can look forward to a new tournament and start to grow the game in a country that has a fantastic tradition.
Rangers, Celtic, Aberdeen and Dundee United in the past few decades have all reached major European Finals and now the Country has been overtaken by the Moldova’s and Armenia’s of this world when it comes to the early stages of European qualifiers.
Well done to the SFA and SPFL for agreeing to a change but please please please don’t stop here.
Scottish League Cup image sourced from; www.sports.stv.tv