|Region|| Scotland |
Republic of Ireland
|Number of teams||50 (2021–22)|
|Current champions||Inverness Caledonian Thistle (3) & Raith Rovers (2) (Shared)|
|Most successful club(s)||Falkirk (4 titles)|
|Television broadcasters|| BBC Alba |
S4C (involving Welsh clubs)
|2021–22 Scottish Challenge Cup|
The Scottish Professional Football League Challenge Cup,commonly known as the Scottish League Challenge Cup or Scottish Challenge Cup, and currently known as the SPFL Trust Trophy for sponsorship reasons, is an association football knock-out cup competition run by the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL).
The competition was first held during the 1990–91 season as the B&Q Centenary Cupto celebrate the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Scottish Football League (SFL). It was intended to be a one-off competition but was continued due to its popularity. It was originally contested by SFL teams below the top level of the Scottish football league system; teams below SPFL level were added in 2011–12, and guest teams from outside Scotland in 2016–17. For the 2019–20 edition there were 58 teams: 30 from the SPFL; the twelve Under-21 teams of the Scottish Premiership clubs; four each from the Highland League and Lowland League; and two guest teams from each of the NIFL Premiership, Cymru Premier League, English National League, and League of Ireland Premier Division up until the 2019–20 season.
The first winner of the tournament was Dundee, who defeated Ayr United.Falkirk are the most successful team in the tournament, with four wins, most recently in 2012. The most recent winners are Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Raith Rovers, who shared the 2019/20 title after the final was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Challenge Cup is a knock-out tournament. Within a regionalised format, clubs are paired at random and the first club drawn listed as the home team.The winner of each match progresses to the next round and the loser is eliminated from the tournament. Every match, including the final, is a one-legged tie that lasts 90 minutes plus any additional stoppage time. If no clear winner has been determined after 90 minutes of normal time, 30 minutes of extra time is played. If the score is still level after extra time then the winner is decided by a penalty shoot-out.
Beginning with the 2016–17 season, the competition has been expanded to 58 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. Also participating by invitation will be four teams each from the Highland and Lowland Leagues and eight entrants from outside Scottish football – two each from the NIFL Premiership in Northern Ireland, the National League in England, League of Ireland and the Welsh Premier League in Wales, until 2021 when the decision was made to only have the Scottish clubs participating due to the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic. Teams are seeded to enter the competition over any of the first four rounds, after which eight teams will remain to contest the quarter-finals. The final is played at a neutral venue.
The competition was created in the 1990–91 season to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Scottish Football League in 1890.It was intended to run for only one season but continued due to its popularity. This was reflected in high attendances at matches in the later rounds of the tournament including a full capacity crowd of 11,500 at Fir Park in the first final. The cup was sponsored by DIY retail company B&Q and named the B&Q Centenary Cup for the first year and continued as the B&Q Cup for four seasons afterwards. The competition was run for three seasons without a sponsor due to the league covering the tournament costs and prize money, but was unsustainable and resulted in it being cancelled for one season in 1998–99 before being re-established in 1999 with a new sponsor. Although it is not as popular as competitions like the Scottish Cup, it provides smaller clubs with a realistic opportunity of winning a trophy due to the absence of top-tier clubs from the tournament. When Stenhousemuir won the final in 1995 it was regarded as the club's greatest achievement in its 111-year history. Attendances at matches in the earlier rounds of the tournament are not dissimilar to average home attendances in league competition but as the competition reaches the latter stages they generally increase; Annan Athletic's record attendance of 1,575 was set in a semi-final match against Falkirk in 2011.
The number of competitors has varied in relation to the number of clubs with Scottish Football League membership. The first tournament featured the 28 clubs in the First and Second Divisions which reduced to 26 until 1994 when the league was expanded and restructured into three divisions; increasing the number of eligible clubs to 30. In the 2010–11 competition the two highest ranked clubs from the Highland Football League with a Scottish Football Association licence were invited to compete, in order to bring the number of competitors to 32. –18 season.Before the change in 2010, several clubs received a random bye in the first round in order to even out the number of fixtures. The Challenge Cup continued under the auspices of the Scottish Professional Football League after the Scottish Football League merged with the Scottish Premier League in 2013. One change at this time was that the two invitational places were split, with only one place filled by a Highland League club (with a valid SFA club licence) and the other place going to the winner of a preliminary round tie between clubs from the East of Scotland League and the South of Scotland League. This was simplified in the 2014–15 season, with the two additional places going to the Highland League champion (Brora Rangers) and the Lowland League champion (Spartans). From 2016–17 the competition has been further expanded with the addition of Scottish Premiership Under-20 teams, additional places for the Highland and Lowland Leagues, which now have four representatives each, as well as the top two teams from Northern Ireland and Wales. The top two teams from the League of Ireland were included in the competition for the 2017
From 2018–19, the competition was further expanded with the two highest ranked teams still remaining in England's National League to take part from the second round. The first English teams to compete were Sutton United and Boreham Wood.The age level was raised for colts teams from under-20 to under-21 in a rule change introduced by the SPFL ahead of 2018–19 competition. The 2018–19 final also saw Connah's Quay Nomads become the first non-Scottish side to play in the final.
The Covid-19 pandemic in Scotland had a significant impact on the competition. –20 final, between Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Raith Rovers, was originally scheduled for 28 March 2020 but has been indefinitely postponed. Continuing restrictions on fans entering stadiums meant that the competition was unviable for most SPFL clubs, and the scheduled 2020–21 edition was cancelled in October 2020. It was announced in May 2021, that only the Scottish clubs will be participating in 2021–22 due to the coronavirus pandemic.The 2019
In the rounds before the final, the venue of each match is determined when the fixtures are drawn; the first club drawn in a fixture is named the home team and chooses the venue for the match, usually its own home ground.The venue may be switched to that of the away team or changed to a neutral venue for security reasons such as being unable to host a club with a large travelling fan base or the venue being unavailable.
The final match of the tournament is played at a neutral venue, usually one that is geographically close or equidistant to where the clubs contesting the match are based. As of 2019, ten different venues have hosted the final. Fir Park in Motherwell was the first, in 1990, and has since hosted four more finals, the last in 2017.McDiarmid Park in Perth has been the most frequent venue, staging it ten times between 1994 and 2018. Other venues to host the final more than once are Broadwood Stadium (Cumbernauld), Excelsior Stadium (Airdrie) and Almondvale Stadium (Livingston). The 2016 final was held at Hampden Park, the national stadium in Glasgow, due to the large support of eventual winners Rangers; that final drew the competition's record attendance of over 48,000.
A total of 26 clubs have reached the final, of whom 16 have won the competition. The first winners were Dundee in 1990.The most successful club is Falkirk with four wins from four final appearances. The two major Highland clubs Ross County and Inverness Caledonian Thistle are the only two clubs to have reached the final five times, Ross County winning on three occasions with Inverness winning two and sharing one, while Hamilton Academical, and Queen of the South have all reached the final four times, each club winning twice and losing twice. Three clubs have reached the final in successive seasons; Ayr United did so in the first two years of the tournament but lost both. The only teams to have successfully defended their title are Hamilton Academical and the original Airdrieonians. It is possible for the winner of the tournament to be unable to defend their title; if a club is promoted from the Scottish Championship (second tier) in the same season to the Scottish Premiership (first tier), the club becomes ineligible to compete in the tournament. This has happened to Falkirk twice, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, St Mirren, Rangers and Ross County.
Most winners and finalists have been from the second tier, while only four teams have won the competition from below this division. Stenhousemuir became the first team to do so in 1995, followed by Stranraer a year later in 1996 and Alloa Athletic in 1999. The most recent club to win from below the second tier was Queen of the South, in 2013.All winners and runners-up from below the second tier have been from the third tier.
In 2019, Connah's Quay Nomads of Wales were the first non-Scottish side to get to the final of the Scottish Challenge Cup; despite taking the lead in the 21st minute, they eventually lost 3–1.
The winner of the tournament is decided by a final elimination match which lasts 90 minutes plus any additional stoppage time.If the score is level and a winner has not been determined after 90 minutes of normal time, 30 minutes of extra time is played, followed by a penalty shoot-out if the score is still level. Eight finals have gone to extra time, with two being decided in this period of play. The further six have been decided by penalty shoot-out.
|*||Match went to extra time|
|Match decided by a penalty shoot-out after extra time|
|Winning team won the second tier of Scottish football league system|
|Italics||Team from below the second tier of the Scottish football league system|
|, , , or||Team from outside the Scottish football league system|
|1990–91||Dundee||3–2 *||Ayr United||Fir Park||11,506|
|1991–92||Hamilton Academical||1–0||Ayr United||Fir Park||9,663|
|1992–93||Hamilton Academical||3–2||Morton||Love Street||7,391|
|1993–94||Falkirk||3–0||St Mirren||Fir Park||13,763|
|1994–95||Airdrieonians||3–2 *||Dundee||McDiarmid Park||8,844|
|1995–96||Stenhousemuir||0–0 †||Dundee United||McDiarmid Park||7,856|
|1996–97||Stranraer||1–0||St Johnstone||Broadwood Stadium||5,222|
|1997–98||Falkirk||1–0||Queen of the South||Fir Park||9,735|
|1998–99||Competition suspended due to lack of sponsorship|
|1999–2000||Alloa Athletic||4–4 †||Inverness Caledonian Thistle||Excelsior Stadium||4,043|
|2000–01||Airdrieonians||2–2 †||Livingston||Broadwood Stadium||5,623|
|2001–02||Airdrieonians||2–1||Alloa Athletic||Broadwood Stadium||4,548|
|2002–03||Queen of the South||2–0||Brechin City||Broadwood Stadium||6,428|
|2003–04||Inverness Caledonian Thistle||2–0||Airdrie United||McDiarmid Park||5,428|
|2004–05||Falkirk||2–1||Ross County||McDiarmid Park||7,471|
|2005–06||St Mirren||2–1||Hamilton Academical||Excelsior Stadium||9,613|
|2006–07||Ross County||1–1 †||Clyde||McDiarmid Park||4,062|
|2007–08||St Johnstone||3–2||Dunfermline Athletic||Dens Park||6,446|
|2008–09||Airdrie United||2–2 †||Ross County||McDiarmid Park||4,091|
|2009–10||Dundee||3–2||Inverness Caledonian Thistle||McDiarmid Park||8,031|
|2010–11||Ross County||2–0||Queen of the South||McDiarmid Park||5,124|
|2011–12||Falkirk||1–0||Hamilton Academical||Almondvale Stadium||5,210|
|2012–13||Queen of the South||1–1 †||Partick Thistle||Almondvale Stadium||9,452|
|2013–14||Raith Rovers||1–0 *||Rangers||Easter Road||19,983|
|2014–15||Livingston||4–0||Alloa Athletic||McDiarmid Park||2,869|
|2016–17||Dundee United||2–1||St Mirren||Fir Park||8,089|
|2017–18||Inverness Caledonian Thistle||1–0||Dumbarton||McDiarmid Park||4,602|
|2018–19||Ross County||3–1||Connah's Quay Nomads||Caledonian Stadium||3,057|
|2019–20||Shared by Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Raith Rovers|
Clubs shown in italics are no longer in existence.
|Club||Wins||Last final won||Runners-up||Last final lost||Total final appearances|
|Inverness Caledonian Thistle||3||2020*||2||2009||5|
|Queen of the South||2||2013||2||2010||4|
|Connah's Quay Nomads||0||—||1||2019||1|
|1991–92||Billy McLaren||Scotland||Hamilton Academical|
|1992–93||Iain Munro||Scotland||Hamilton Academical|
|1995–96||Terry Christie||Scotland||Stenhousemuir||First manager to win the competition with a club outside of the second tier.|
|1999–2000||Terry Christie (2)||Scotland||Alloa Athletic||First manager to win the competition more than once, with two different clubs.|
|2002–03||John Connolly||Scotland||Queen of the South|
|2003–04||John Robertson||Scotland||Inverness Caledonian Thistle|
|2005–06||Gus MacPherson||Scotland||St Mirren|
|2006–07||Scott Leitch||Scotland||Ross County|
|2007–08||Sandy Stewart||Scotland||St Johnstone|
|2008–09||Kenny Black||Scotland||Airdrie United|
|2010–11||Jimmy Calderwood||Scotland||Ross County|
|2012–13||Allan Johnston||Scotland||Queen of the South|
|2013–14||Grant Murray||Scotland||Raith Rovers|
|2015–16||Mark Warburton||England||Rangers||First non-Scottish manager to win the competition.|
|2016–17||Ray McKinnon||Scotland||Dundee United|
|2017–18||John Robertson (2)||Scotland||Inverness Caledonian Thistle||First manager to win the cup more than once with the same club.|
|2018–19||Steven Ferguson and Stuart Kettlewell||Scotland||Ross County||First co-managers to win the cup|
|2019–20||John Robertson (3)||Scotland||Inverness Caledonian Thistle||First manager to win the cup three times|
|John McGlynn||Scotland||Raith Rovers|
The Scottish Challenge Cup has been sponsored several times since it was introduced in 1990. The sponsor has been able to determine the name of the competition. There have been four sponsors since the competition's formation as well as several name changes within the duration of each sponsorship.The competition relies on revenue earned from sponsorship although it has been able to run without a sponsor over two periods but had to be suspended for one season in 1998–99 as a consequence.
Selected games have been broadcast live on the Scottish Gaelic language television channel BBC Alba since 2008,which is run jointly by former sponsor MG Alba and the BBC. Every final since the 2008 final has been broadcast live on the channel and the arrangement was extended for three more years in 2012 despite the end of MG Alba's sponsorship of the competition in 2011. With the expansion of the competition to include teams from Northern Ireland and Wales from 2016 to 2017, additional contracts for live match coverage have been agreed with Premier Sports and S4C.
The Scottish Football League (SFL) was a league featuring professional and semi-professional football clubs mostly from Scotland. From its foundation in 1890 until the breakaway Scottish Premier League (SPL) was formed in 1998, the SFL represented the top level of football in Scotland. After 1998, the SFL represented levels 2 to 4 of the Scottish football league system. In June 2013, the SFL merged with the SPL to form the Scottish Professional Football League.
John Grant Robertson is a Scottish professional football coach and former player, who is currently the sporting director of Inverness Caledonian Thistle. His playing career included spells at Newcastle United, Dundee and Livingston, but he is best known for his two spells at Heart of Midlothian totalling about 18 years, where he is the club's all-time leading goalscorer. He has since managed Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Heart of Midlothian, Ross County, Livingston, Derry City and East Fife.
The Scottish League Cup, currently known as the Premier Sports Cup for sponsorship reasons, is a football competition open to all Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) clubs. First held in 1946–47, it is the oldest national League Cup in existence. The competition had a straight knockout format but became a group and knockout competition from 2016–17.
The 2009–10 Scottish League Cup was the 64th season of the Scotland's second most prestigious football knockout competition, also known for sponsorship reasons as the Co-operative Insurance Cup. Rangers won the cup beating St Mirren 1–0 thanks to a goal from Kenny Miller.
The 2011–12 season was Ross County's fourth consecutive season in the Scottish First Division, having been promoted as champions of the Scottish Second Division at the end of 2007–08 season. They also competed in the Challenge Cup, League Cup and the Scottish Cup.
The 2011–12 Scottish Challenge Cup, known as the Ramsdens Challenge Cup due to sponsorship reasons with Ramsdens, was the 21st season of the competition. It was competed for by 32 clubs, which included the 30 members of the Scottish Football League, and for the first time the top two clubs of the Highland Football League.
The 2012 Scottish Challenge Cup Final, also known as the Ramsdens Cup Final for sponsorship reasons, was an association football match between Falkirk and Hamilton Academical on 1 April 2012 at Almondvale Stadium in Livingston. It was the 21st final of the Scottish Challenge Cup since it was first organised in 1990 to celebrate the centenary of the Scottish Football League.
Season 2009–10 was Airdrie United's eighth competitive season. They competed in the First Division, Challenge Cup, League Cup and the Scottish Cup.
The 2012–13 season was Partick Thistle's seventh consecutive season in the Scottish First Division, having been promoted from the Scottish Second Division at the end of the 2005–06 season. Partick Thistle also competed in the Challenge Cup, League Cup and the Scottish Cup.
The Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) is the national men's association football league in Scotland. The league was formed in June 2013 following a merger between the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League. As well as operating its league competition, which consists of the top four levels of the Scottish football league system, the SPFL also operates two domestic cup competitions, the Scottish League Cup and the Scottish Challenge Cup. While the Scottish Cup includes all the teams within the SPFL, the competition is run and organised by the Scottish Football Association.
The 2014 Scottish Challenge Cup Final, also known as the Ramsdens Cup Final for sponsorship reasons, was a football match that took place at Easter Road on 6 April 2014, between Raith Rovers and Rangers. The match was televised by BBC ALBA. It was the 23rd final of the Scottish Challenge Cup since it was first organised in 1990 to celebrate the centenary of the now defunct Scottish Football League, it was the first Challenge Cup Final since the formation of the SPFL. Both teams progressed through four elimination rounds to reach the final. The match was both clubs' first appearance in the final of the competition, whilst it was Raith Rovers' first cup final in 20 years since winning the League Cup in 1994.
The 2016–17 Scottish Challenge Cup, known as the IRN-BRU Cup due to sponsorship reasons, was the 26th season of the competition. The tournament took on a different format from previous seasons with a total of 54 teams participating. It was the first season with two clubs from both Northern Ireland and Wales competing alongside the 30 members of the 2016–17 Scottish Championship, 2016–17 Scottish League One and 2016–17 Scottish League Two, four teams from the 2016–17 Highland Football League and four from the 2016–17 Lowland Football League as well as the Under-20 teams of the teams competing in the 2016–17 Scottish Premiership.
The 2017 Scottish Challenge Cup Final, also known as the Irn-Bru Cup Final for sponsorship reasons, is a football match that took place on 25 March 2017 at Fir Park, between Dundee United and St Mirren. It was the 26th final of the Scottish Challenge Cup since it was first organised in 1990 to celebrate the centenary of the now defunct Scottish Football League and the fourth since the Scottish Professional Football League was formed. Both teams progressed through four elimination rounds to reach the final. The match was won by Dundee United 2 - 1, marking their first win in the tournament since its inception and their first silverware since the 2009-10 Scottish Cup final.
The 2017–18 Scottish Challenge Cup, known as the IRN-BRU Cup due to sponsorship reasons, is the 27th season of the competition. The tournament took on a similar format from the previous season, however, two teams from the Republic of Ireland's Airtricity League entered the competition for the first time taking the total number of participating clubs to 56. This was the second season with two clubs from both Northern Ireland and Wales competing alongside the 30 members of the 2017–18 Scottish Championship, 2017–18 Scottish League One and 2017–18 Scottish League Two, four teams from the 2017–18 Highland Football League and four from the 2017–18 Lowland Football League as well as the Under-20 teams of the teams competing in the 2017–18 Scottish Premiership. The Welsh teams were The New Saints and Connah's Quay Nomads while the Northern Irish teams were Crusaders and Linfield.
The 2018–19 Scottish Premiership was the sixth season of the Scottish Premiership, the highest division of Scottish football. The fixtures were published on 15 June 2018 and the season began on 4 August 2018.
The 2018 Scottish Challenge Cup Final, also known as the IRN-BRU Cup Final for sponsorship reasons, was a football match that took place on 24 March 2018 at McDiarmid Park, between Dumbarton and Inverness Caledonian Thistle. It was the 27th final of the Scottish Challenge Cup since it was first organised in 1990 to celebrate the centenary of the now defunct Scottish Football League, and the fifth since the SPFL was formed. The match was won by Inverness CT 1–0 with a stoppage time winner, marking their second win in the tournament since its inception and their first silverware since the 2014–15 Scottish Cup.
The 2018–19 Scottish Challenge Cup, known as the IRN-BRU Cup due to sponsorship reasons, was the 28th season of the competition. The tournament took on a similar format from the previous season with the addition of two teams from England's National League entering the competition for the first time. This took the total number of participating clubs to 58.
The 2019 Scottish Challenge Cup Final, also known as the IRN-BRU Cup Final for sponsorship reasons, was a football match that took place on 23 March 2019, between Ross County and Connah's Quay Nomads. It was the 28th final of the Scottish Challenge Cup since it was first organised in 1990 to celebrate the centenary of the now defunct Scottish Football League, and the sixth since the SPFL was formed. Connah's Quay became the first club from outside Scotland to reach the final since the competition was first expanded to include guest teams from other countries in 2016–17.
The 2019–20 Scottish Challenge Cup known as the Tunnock's Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup due to sponsorship reasons, was the 29th season of the competition. The total number of participating clubs is 58. The competition began on 6 August 2019 with the First Round and was due end on 28 March 2020 with the final at McDiarmid Park in Perth. However, the final had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was never subsequently played.
The 2020 Scottish Challenge Cup Final, also known as the Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup Final for sponsorship reasons, was a scheduled football match between Raith Rovers and Inverness Caledonian Thistle. It was the 29th final of the Scottish Challenge Cup since it was first organised in 1990 to celebrate the centenary of the now defunct Scottish Football League, and the seventh since the SPFL was formed. However on April 30 2021, the game was cancelled after a year of inactivity, leading to the clubs sharing the title.