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Is the League Cup revamp & deal as good as some are claiming?

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So SPFL bosses have agreed to a major shake-up of the League Cup – a competition seen by many in Scottish football as pointless – unless your club wins it of course.

Attendances for the competition have been woeful over the years, but now those in charge of the domestic game believe their plans for revamping the competition will bring new life to it and excite the fans.

This season’s quarter-final ties failed to see a single stadia sell out. Out of the total capacity of 55,652 for all four ties – only 28,926 fans took in the games. Was this down to the games being played at midweek or is it simply – the League Cup is not exciting enough?

Looking at the revamp plans, I certainly welcome part of it – that of introducing a group stage. Where eight groups of five teams start in July with 12 teams progressing to a knockout round alongside those clubs playing in Europe. What happened to regionalising the groups though?

But here is the ludicrous part of the revamp – it wouldn’t be Scottish football if there wasn’t one ludicrous idea touted. Any drawn matches in the group stages of the competition will go straight to a penalty shoot-out and the team that wins will take two points rather than one.

Seriously? If our game wasn’t mocked already, we have a governing body peddling an idea that dispenses with draws in effect. What is the point of a group stage if you are going to dispense with draws? Just keep it as a knock out competition from the first round then.

It is all a bit MLS in the 90s. Amateurish.

There is also the re-introduction of a winter break in January for two weeks. I wonder how they chose January? Are they hoping we don’t have gale force winds, torrential rain or storm warnings any other time of the year?

On top of lauding the new revamped format, the SPFL boasted about the new TV deal with BT Sport to cover the competition worth a reported £8 million.

The BT Sport deal will see six games from the group stages broadcast list, with a further seven knockout round games each year for four years. That works out at £153,846 per game.

Is that really value for money? Alloa chairman Mike Mulraney – who is a regular critic of the BBC and their TV deal with the SPFL – seems to think so.

I’m sorry but if the BBC had produced a deal with the SPFL worth that amount, they would have been lambasted for it being so pitiful, once again undervaluing our game.

BT Sport and Sky Sports pay over £10 million for ONE ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE game – yet BT Sport are lauded for spending £8 million on four years of League Cup action?

Our clubs and officials demand their fair share of money for coverage when comparing what we get from the Beeb to budget they have for Match of the Day. But there seems to be a double standard here over the BT Sport deal – or is it just me?

Sorry but I cannot get excited at this revamp like some seemingly are. Those of us who have spoken out about the revamp are deemed to be scared of change. I am all for change if it improves the game, but this change has amateurism written all over it. Why else do you think no one else has implemented a penalty shootout and bonus point for a draw in cup games?

Changing the recipe and how it is packaged is all well and good – but what about the price, the way it is marketed and when it is sold? There are more important issues still unresolved that should have been before even contemplating a penalty shootout and bonus point proposal.

Once again the SPFL is thinking more about the clubs and their own purse strings rather than the consumer – the fans.

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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