It’s back to the future for Scottish football as the SPFL announce a return to a regionalised group stage New Scottish League Cup format.
They also announced a return of the two week winter break in January while outlaying some of the changes and innovations of the new competition.
The new Scottish League Cup format will include two non-league entrants in the champions of the Highland and Lowland leagues. They will join thirty-eight other sides in a round robin group stage first round.
The four European representatives will enter the competition in the second round alongside eight group winners and four best runners up. At this stage the competition will revert to a knockout competition with the second round leading to quarter finals, semi finals and a final.
The first round introduces an innovative system where drawn games will earn each team one point in the group stages. However, a penalty shoot out will determine which side gains an extra point towards their tally. Outright match winners will collect the conventional three points.
The winter break seems to be a poor attempt to assuage the clamour for summer league football with fans and clubs alike warming to the idea of playing football through the summer months. Neil Doncaster, SPFL chief executive, said “competitive summer football will be delivered from next July”.
The notion of not wanting to traipse around football grounds in the harsh winters was more the point that seems to have been missed completely by the SPFL decision makers.
Lots of fans have real issues in travelling vast distances in dark, stormy weather and it undoubtedly affects overall attendances. Not to mention the quality of the product on the park and the parks themselves.
The regionalisation of the competition has also come in for some criticism. Fans are concerned that this will result in playing the same teams every season in the competition.
For smaller clubs it may also mean being continuously grouped with dominant neighbours. This will leave little chance for smaller clubs to progress in the league cup competition.