New football format
More money and points in new League Cup
Scottish football is heading for summer football and a winter break as clubs were backed by an £8million four-year television deal with BT Sport in a revamp of the League Cup.
The new format, which begins next season, will reintroduce group stage football and a two-week winter break starting in January 2017 for Premiership clubs.
The League Cup also sees the return of sections for the first time since the 1980s with eight groups of five teams. In a world first, all drawn games will go to a penalty shoot-out, with the winners given a bonus point.
Eighty group games will involve each team playing each other once between 16 and 30 July.
It will involve 38 SPFL sides who are not taking part in European qualifiers, as well as the winners of this season’s Highland League and Lowland League. The draw will also be regionalised to help cut down on travelling.
The eight group winners and four best runners-up will progress to the second round where they are joined by the clubs playing in Europe. The competition then reverts to a standard knockout format.
BT Sport will replace BBC Scotland as the exclusive live broadcaster and will increase the number of matches shown.
Six games from the group stage will be screened live, as well as a further seven matches from the knockout rounds, including both semi-finals and the final. The agreement runs through to the 2019/20 season.
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster, said: “The new format of the Scottish League Cup marks an exciting new chapter for the competition and sees Scottish football leading the way with a number of innovations.
“Our agreement with BT Sport delivers a huge increase in the number of games being shown live as well as providing increased competition prize money for clubs.
“We are consulting with Ladbrokes Championship, League One and League Two clubs to establish whether they also favour a winter break in their respective divisions.”
In September, the SPFL agreed an improved deal — worth around £17.5m a year — for coverage of league fixtures by Sky and BT Sport until 2020.