THE Betfred League will kick off in October and come to a conclusion at Hampden on Sunday February 28.
SPFL bosses announced today the 2020/21 competition will comprise a group stage and five rounds in total. The news ends speculation the tourney had been in jeopardy which may have led to fewer matches or scrapped completely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the group stage will get underway with five group games – the first of which will be played on Tuesday, October 6 – and will be followed by four knock-out rounds.
The Cup Final will be played at Hampden on Sunday, February 28, 2021.
Celtic have won the trophy for the past four years, beginning the glory trail with a 3-0 win over Aberdeen in Brendan Rodgers’ debut season 2016/17. Tom Rogic, James Forrest and Moussa Dembele (pen) scored the goals as the Dons were dumped.
A year later, Forrest and Dembele were on target again as Rodgers’ side defeated Motherwell 2-0 and they followed that up the following season with a 1-0 victory over Derek McInnes’ outfit when Ryan Christie walloped in the winner.
PRIZE GUYS…Neil Lennon and matchwinner Christopher Jullien after last season’s Betfred League Cup success.
Last time out, £7million French central defender Christopher Jullien was the Hoops hero with the only strike of the encounter against Rangers.
The SPFL revealed that all 42 of their affiliated clubs have confirmed they will be able to take part.
They will also be liaising with the Highland and Lowland Leagues about the possibility of their champions, Brora Rangers and Kelty Hearts, participating.
The group stage will follow the same format as last year, with matches ending in a draw after 90 minutes going straight to a penalty shoot-out, with the winners earning an extra ‘bonus point’ in addition to the traditional point given for a draw.
The eight group winners and four best runners-up will then progress to the last 16 knock-out round.
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster, speaking in the Daily Record, said: “Last season’s Betfred Cup was a hugely successful competition and we are looking forward to the same combination of excitement and passion this season.
“The process of scheduling the SPFL’s premier cup competition has been made much more difficult this year due to the disruption caused by Covid-19, but we are delighted to be in a position to confirm five uninterrupted rounds of fixtures once again.
“The innovations made to the competition in the last few seasons have proved to be a real winner with clubs and supporters alike.
2018 WINNERS…Celtic celebrate their 1-0 win over Aberdeen two seasons ago.
“We are extremely grateful to our friends at Premier Sports, Betfred and the Scottish FA for their flexibility in agreeing this season’s Betfred Cup schedule.
“We wish all the clubs the best of luck in their quest to reach next year’s final.”
Betfred head of media Mark Pearson said: “Season 2020/21 marks the fifth year of our extremely enjoyable and successful title sponsorship of the Betfred Cup.
“We are delighted that the dates for the new season are now confirmed and we are looking forward to another thrilling competition.”
Premier Sports director of operation Richard Webb said: “It is terrific news that, despite all the issues Covid-19 has created within football, the SPFL has been able to replicate the same successful format for this season’s Betfred Cup.
“We are excited to be entering our first season showcasing the biggest games from the two major cup competitions in Scotland and look forward to being the home of Scottish knockout football from this autumn onwards.”
The draw for the first round group stage fixtures will take place in due course, with further details to follow.
Confirmed Betfred League Cup dates:
Match day 1 – Tuesday, October 6, 2020.
Match day 2 – Saturday, October 10, 2020.
Match day 3 – Tuesday, October 13, 2020.
Match day 4 – Tuesday, November 10, 2020.
Match day 5 – Saturday, November 14, 2020.
Saturday, November 28, and Sunday, November 29, 2020.
Tuesday, December 15, Wednesday, December 16, and Thursday, December 17, 2020.
Saturday, January 23, and Sunday, January 24, 2021.
Sunday, February 28,