Scottish League Cup

Last updated

Scottish League Cup
Founded1946
RegionScotland
Number of teams44
Current champions St Johnstone
(1st title)
Most successful team(s) Rangers
(27 titles)
Television broadcasters Premier Sports
Soccerball current event.svg 2021–22 Scottish League Cup

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.

Contents

Rangers are the record holders of the cup, winning 27 times. St Johnstone are the current holders, after beating Livingston 1–0 at Hampden Park on 28 February 2021.

Currently, the domestic television rights are held by Premier Sports who replaced BT Sport from the 2019–20 season.

Format

Historically, the Scottish League Cup has oscillated between being a straightforward single-elimination knockout tournament and having an initial group phase. Since the 2016–17 season, the League Cup has used a group phase format. The current format has eight groups of five teams playing each other once in a round-robin format. [1] The forty teams playing in the group stage consist of the 38 league clubs who are not participating in UEFA competitions, along with two teams from outside the league. [1] [note 1] In the group phase, three points are given for a win and one point for a draw. If matches are level after ninety minutes, a penalty shoot-out is held with the winning team gaining a bonus point. [1] [2] The groups are regionalised: there are four groups in the North section, and four in the South section, with three pots for each regional section – top seeds, second seeds, and unseeded clubs. Each group will consist of one top seed, one second seed, and three unseeded clubs.

The eight group winners and four best runners-up progress into the second round, where they are joined by the four clubs participating in UEFA competitions. [1] The tournament then adopts a single-elimination knockout format. There are no replays, which means all drawn matches are decided by extra time and a penalty shootout, if necessary. The semi-final matches are played on a neutral ground, determined by the location and size of supports involved. The final game is traditionally played at Hampden Park in Glasgow, though due to renovations some finals have been played at other venues, such as Celtic Park or Ibrox Stadium. The new format also allowed the SPFL to reintroduce the two-weekend winter break in January. Along with the newly designed tournament, a new television deal for it was announced as BT Sport took over rights from BBC Scotland. [2] In February 2016 the SPFL announced the League Cup final would be moved to November. [1] [3]

History

The cup has its origins in a regional cup competition called the Southern League Cup which was introduced in 1940 when wartime restrictions led to a suspension of the Scottish Cup. This tournament was largely regional and did not involve all of the teams who comprised the Scottish Football League prior to the outbreak of war. The first official Scottish Football League Cup was contested during the 1946–47 season, when Rangers defeated Aberdeen in the final. [4]

The competition was very popular with supporters during the first few decades of its existence. The tournament consisted of 8 or 9 groups consisting of 4 or 5 teams. The groups were seeded into 2 sets with the top 16 teams in Division 1 making up the first four groups. This guaranteed that 4 'top' teams would play 4 'lesser' teams in the quarter-finals.

Extra games when the Premier League was formed and expanded European competitions meant that by the early 1980s, its long-winded format, which involved group rounds played early in the season leading to two-legged knock-out rounds, attracted much criticism. In the mid-1980s the tournament was revamped to a shorter, single elimination knock-out format with a final played prior to Christmas, which provided the excitement of a cup final early in the season.

During the 1999–2000 competition, the semi-finals and final were moved to the springtime to avoid the congestion of fixtures caused by the early rounds of the UEFA club competitions and Scotland's representatives in Europe were given automatic byes until the third round of competition.

From the 2016–17 edition the League Cup reverted to a group stage format, with single-elimination knock-out in the last 16 onwards. [2]

Previous finals

Sponsorship

The League Cup has been known by different names due to sponsorship: [5]

PeriodSponsorName
1946–78No sponsorScottish League Cup
1979–81 Bell's whisky Bell's League Cup
1981–84No sponsorScottish League Cup
1984–92 Skol LagerSkol Cup
1992–94No sponsorScottish League Cup
1994–98 Coca-Cola Coca-Cola Cup
1998–99No sponsorScottish League Cup
1999–2008 CIS Insurance CIS Insurance Cup [6] [7]
2008–11 The Co-operative Insurance Co-operative Insurance Cup
2011–13 Scottish Government Scottish Communities League Cup [8] [9]
2013–15No sponsorScottish League Cup
2015QTS GroupThe Scottish League Cup presented by QTS (semi-finals and final only) [10]
2015–16Utilita EnergyThe Scottish League Cup presented by Utilita [11] [12]
2016–21 Betfred Betfred Cup [13] [14]
2021–present Premier Sports Premier Sports Cup [15] [16]

Trophy

Since the competition's inception, the winning team has been awarded the three-handled trophy known as the Scottish Football League Cup. However, during the 1980s when Skol lager sponsored the competition, a second trophy known as the Skol Cup was awarded as well. After the 1987–88 competition when Rangers won their third Skol Cup, they were given the trophy permanently and a new Skol Cup with a slightly different design was introduced the following season.

It was long term Clyde and then Scottish Football League chairman John McMahon who donated the trophy that is still awarded to the winners of the competition to this day. [17]

European qualification

Until 1995, the winners of the Scottish League Cup were granted a place in the UEFA Cup, although this privilege was rarely invoked as the winning teams usually qualified for Europe by some other means such as winning the League Championship or Scottish Cup. The most recent example was Raith Rovers who represented Scotland in the 1995–96 UEFA Cup after winning the League Cup the previous season as a First Division club. This privilege has since been discontinued due to the reduction in the number of European places granted to Scottish clubs.

Performance by club

Scottish League Cup winners by club [18]
TeamWinnersRunners-upYears wonYears Runners-Up
Rangers 278 1946–47, 1948–49, 1960–61, 1961–62, 1963–64, 1964–65, 1970–71, 1975–76, 1977–78, 1978–79, 1981–82, 1983–84, 1984–85, 1986–87, 1987–88, 1988–89, 1990–91, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1996–97, 1998–99, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2004–05, 2007–08, 2009–10, 2010–11 1951–52, 1957–58, 1965–66, 1966–67, 1982–83, 1989–90, 2008–09, 2019–20
Celtic 1915 1956–57, 1957–58, 1965–66, 1966–67, 1967–68, 1968–69, 1969–70, 1974–75, 1982–83, 1997–98, 1999–00, 2000–01, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2014–15, 2016–17, 2017–18, 2018–19, 2019–20 1964–65, 1970–71, 1971–72, 1972–73, 1973–74, 1975–76, 1976–77, 1977–78, 1983–84, 1986–87, 1990–91, 1994–95, 2002–03, 2010–11, 2011–12
Aberdeen 69 1955–56, 1976–77, 1985–86, 1989–90, 1995–96, 2013–14 1946–47, 1978–79, 1979–80, 1987–88, 1988–89, 1992–93, 1999–00, 2016–17, 2018–19
Hearts 43 1954–55, 1958–59, 1959–60, 1962–63 1961–62, 1996, 2012–13
Hibernian 37 1972–73, 1991–92, 2006–07 1950–51, 1968–69, 1974–75, 1985–86, 1993–94, 2003–04, 2015–16
Dundee 33 1951–52, 1952–53, 1973–74 1967–68, 1980–81, 1995–96
East Fife 30 1947–48, 1949–50, 1953–54
Dundee United 25 1979–80, 1980–81 1981–82, 1984–85, 1997–98, 2007–08, 2014–15
Kilmarnock 15 2011–12 1952–53, 1960–61, 1962–63, 2000–01, 2006–07
Motherwell 13 1950–51 1954–55, 2004–05, 2017–18
Partick Thistle 13 1971–72 1953–54, 1956–57, 1958–59
St Johnstone 12 2020–21 1969–70, 1998–99
St Mirren 12 2012–13 1955–56, 2009–10
Livingston 11 2003–04 2020–21
Raith Rovers 11 1994–95 1948–49
Ross County 10 2015–16
Dunfermline Athletic 03 1949–50, 1991–92, 2005–06
Falkirk 01 1947–48
Third Lanark 01 1959–60
Greenock Morton 01 1963–64
Ayr United 01 2001–02
Inverness Caledonian Thistle 01 2013–14

Media coverage

Scottish League Cup matches are currently shown live by Premier Sports in the United Kingdom and Ireland. [2] [16] [19] In Australia, the Scottish League Cup is broadcast by beIN Sports. The 2009 Scottish League Cup Final was shown live on SBS due to a fixture clash on previous hosts' Setanta channel. [2] In sub-Saharan Africa, the Scottish League Cup matches are currently shown live by ESPN

List of broadcasters

PeriodChannel
2002–04 Channel 5 [20]
2004–16 BBC One Scotland [21]
2016–20 BT Sport [22]
2020–present Premier Sports [23] [24]

Notes

  1. For the 2017–18 season, these two additional teams were East Kilbride and Buckie Thistle, who had won the Lowland League and Highland League respectively in 2016–17.

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