Cup given extra fizz

IRN-BRU are now the sponsors of the revamped Scottish Challenge Cup – which will be renamed the IRN-BRU Cup.

Following a decade supporting Scottish football, IRN-BRU’s backing of Scottish football will continue, as they have signed a three-year sponsorship deal with the Challenge Cul. Formerly the Challenge Cup, the IRN-BRU Cup this season celebrates a fresh and exciting new format.

This new cup competition has been given extra fizz (no pun intended) for the forthcoming 2016/17 season, with the introduction of two teams each from the Welsh Premier League and Northern Ireland Football League, with teams from the Highland and Lowland Leagues (four each) and all Ladbrokes Premiership under 20 teams (12) also joining to compete for the first ever tri-national IRN-BRU Cup.

These radical changes to this cup system makes this tournament unique. For the first time, the winners of this Scottish trophy, could be Northern Irish or Welsh. Last season, Glasgow Rangers defeated Peterhead, 4-0, to win the trophy at Hampden Park.

The competition has been expanded to 54 entrants. All Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) clubs will participate, with the thirty clubs from the Championship, League One and League Two, now joined by under-20 teams from the twelve Premiership Clubs. To help expand the quality of domestic football, by invitation will be four teams each from the Highland and Lowland Leagues and four entrants from outside Scottish football – two each from the NIFL Premiership in Northern Ireland and the Welsh Premier League in Wales. Two Welsh sides and two from Northern Ireland enter the last 16 in October.

It is expected these teams will be the top two from the Welsh Premier League and Northern Ireland Football League, meaning places for The New Saints and Bala Town and Crusaders and Linfield.

We could even see a final which features no Scottish club, for the first time ever.

The SPFL have said that the majority of fixtures will take place during international weekends, while BBC ALBA, S4C and Premier Sports will all show live matches.

– Jamie Kent.

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