Scotland's top football clubs come together each year, regardless of division, to compete in the Scottish League Cup and for a shot at country-wide adornment. Beginning in 2016, Scotland's League Cup will involve 8 groups of 5 teams, including all 38 Scottish Professional Football League clubs as well as the top Highland Football League club from the previous year and the highest placed team from the Lowland Football League.
But it wasn't always this way as the 71st Scottish League Cup, kicking off Group Stage in July, will be the first League Cup featuring the newly formatted tournament. Up until last year, the Scottish league Cup featured a knockout-round style format and a different qualifying process.
Along with the formatting changes, the 2016 Scottish League Cup will also feature a newly signed sponsor in Betfred. The UK-based bookmaker has dabbled in a few different sponsorships over the years but has turned most of its attention to the newest adventure, the recently revamped League Cup.
Football punters have grown accustomed to betting on tournaments structured around the group stage format; the World Cup, Champions League, and a majority of other major football tournaments feature a group stage to begin as opposed to the knockout stage previously used for League Cup. Now, football punters looking at the Scottish League Cup markets can use similar strategies as when they bet on other major tournaments.
The changes also offer a revamped qualifying process. Previously, the League Cup featured all teams from the Premiership (the highest level league) as well as 29 teams from the lower divisions. The new format features all 38 teams in the Scottish Professional Football League, but with the catch they cannot be currently qualifying for UEFA, as well as the top team from each of the lowest divisions.
The Group Stage, starting in July, will feature the 40 qualifying teams competing to be the final 12 teams to move on to the Secound Round. Following the Second Round, the League Cup will feature a Quarter Finals, Semi-Finals, and then the Final in November.
The most unique change coming to the League Cup outside of the group stage addition is the bonus point system set to be implemented in July. The new system will feature the familiar 3 and 1 point scale for a win and draw respectively but all draws will go on to a shoot out with the winner taking an additional 1 point, totaling 2 points for a draw for one of the teams.
The powers behind the League Cup believe this point system change will add excitement to the overall tournament and ultimately provide increased popularity world wide. The League Cup's standing relative to its competition like the FA Cup might have been a driving force behind the changes; grabbing attention from the other premier tournaments is crucial to overall tournament success.
Along with the exciting changes coming to the Scottish League Cup's format, a new name is coming as well. Beginning in 2016, the Scottish League Cup will be known as the Betfred Cup, after the topnotch bookmaker secured the tournament's sponsorship with a £1m deal set to hold for the next three years.
Betfred clearly sees the revamped tournament as an opportunity to join a growing brand. If the changes yield the increased attention expected, Betfred's current deal will look like a steal compared to the sponsorship deals of the other major tournaments totaling millions over years.
This also isn't Betfred's first sponsorship endeavor as their name is tied to the World Snooker Championships as well as numerous horse racing and greyhound racing events. The most prominent event to don the Betfred name is The Grand National.
To begin betting on the Betfred Cup Group Stage starting in July, head over to Betfred Sports today!