SPFL League cup format – A disaster for Premiership Teams?

SPFL League cup format – A disaster for Premiership Teams?
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 11: Neil Doncaster, the CEO of the Scottish Premier League, talks during the Leaders In Sport conference at Stamford Bridge on October 11, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)

For some the league cup is already a demotivating mess. Hibs are being slaughtered in the media, St. Mirren also are being kicked up and down and St. Johnstone – still a Premiership team … just … after the highs of winning two trophies and playing in Europe….to complete mediocrity…

Whilst Rangers and the dark side of Glasgow hunt for their respective solutions to build teams competing on four fronts this season and once again prepare for European campaigns, others within the league seem to be imploding.

St. Mirren

Lost 2-0 to Airdrie, Lost 1-0 to Arbroath and beating Cowdenbeath 2-0.


Lost on penalties to Morton after a 1-1 draw also losing 1-0 to Falkirk but managing to beat the lowly Bonnyrigg Rose 4-1

St Johnstone

Losing on penalties after a 2-2 draw to QoS and also after a 0-0 draw to Annan. They did manage a 4-2 victory of Elgin though.

Aberdeen have cruised it and Livingston and Ross County got there in the end but struggled at times.

So does this mean that the cup being played at this time of the season gives the competition more spice or entertainment value , a bit  of wow factor with these ties being obvious banana skins? Or are these needless fixtures that are unfair to those Premiership teams involved, detracting from their preparations and regaining fitness properly, being knocked out cups in unrealistic matches with injuries picked up as they aren’t ready to compete in a full 90 minutes yet. It seems almost like a punishment for being in the bottom half of the table. Whilst Rangers being in this position is very unlikely it does pose a question, if a team wins a cup and has qualified for Europe but finishes 10th in the league do these fixtures become a blessing or a hinderance?

As a nation our coefficient struggles are well documented, we need any cup in Europe at least getting to the group stages, for the good of all clubs and European money coming into the league, let’s face it, if we wait for Doncaster and his cronies to do something we will all be in our slippers and white haired, this is where these early ties do become relevant for Rangers as a club. The weird formats that are dreamt up by our governing body for competitions need reviewing in my opinion. Things like the split serves little purpose,if any and just guarantees more of playing the same teams ;again…and the League cup format is disruptive to Premier League teams who do or potentially could have European duty.

Aberdeen failed miserably last season, it was awful, rivalry aside normally this is a club that could win the League Cup or Scottish Cup and grab a European place, St Johnstone won both Cups but weren’t great in the league and give them their due gave Galatasary a run for their money but didn’t make the groups. Hearts are making big claims about winning titles, brave talk, great to have ambition.. if its realistic. The Old Firm have spent £40 odd million between them – Hearts have spent – £423k. To me making 3rd spot their own and ensuring a good run in Europe through the groups, aim for the last 32, that is more realistic. Otherwise put 10 million out in transfers, back your title charge claims with some serious squad investment, otherwise it’s just not going to happen. The big two are too big and their spending power and draw too large. For all other SPL team Europe is the way to make cash and improve and catchup. Either side of Glasgow would welcome that particular chase with open arms. The better they do the more slots we are allocated the better for all concerned. Look at Holland they have been masters at it.

In my view the governing body has a responsibility to ensure that Scottish teams have every chance of being prepared for European competition. Playing competitive ties and losing and being put out of a competition doesn’t seem proactive or indeed fair and probably detrimental to fitness, morale and team building.

As it happens no clubs are in this position this season. Rangers and the dark side gobbled up all the trophies. This doesn’t mean it can’t happen in the future or should. Scrambling to get teams ready to play a competitive fixture whilst in preseason still just seems backwards and, in my view, unfair and unproductive for Premiership teams forced to take part. A Friendly allows for multiple substitutions, the cup fixture does not.

How I think we should fix it ….

I think the league cup has a place but we as a nation already play a ridiculous number of games. Joe Aribo played 70 matches, the most of any player in Europe..possibly the world at professional levels.

So return it to one leg knockout ties for me, with the Premiership Clubs entering mid-September at round three or four.

The league expanded to the encompass the Premiership and the Championship as one league where every team is played Home and Away once a season. Division one and two likewise become the championship, with he Lowland and Highland leagues making up our third tier with permanent slots for Premiership B teams if they wish or can enter them.

Scottish Cup is fine as it is except, I would make all cup ties a one off with penalties and no replays.

Have a decent winter break. No more frozen pitches. (Might as well while we’re at it!)

Ban fully synthetic pitches. ( Bonus!)

By doing this I believe that the league as a whole is streamlined more competitive and money for two big leagues will ensure more clubs are financed with big paydays against bigger clubs. I think TV deals would be better as many more fans are involved, I would envision more TV sponsorship as a result.

Am I right … who knows, to me it looks better…  

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  1. I’ve been saying this to my mates for years join the league’s together it’s better for everyone and the smaller so called teams get better and hopefully challenge the bigger teams for European spots

  2. The Old Firm are already miles ahead of teams in he SPFL and I don’t see how merging in another 12 even poorer teams from the Championship would make it any stronger. I can imagine regular 6-0 drubbings would get a bit embarrassing.

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