Clubs consider Scottish League Cup shake-up

By Richard WilsonBBC Scotland
Celtic claim the Scottish League Cup in 2015
Celtic hoist aloft the Scottish League Cup

Group stages and an earlier summer kick-off are options being considered to revamp the Scottish League Cup.

The structure of the competition is the subject of club discussions, as is league restructuring.

A self-imposed three-year hiatus on changing the leagues ends next summer.

"If there's a view [among members] that we should be doing something different then we'll do something different," said Scottish Professional Football League chief executive Neil Doncaster.

The second round of the League Cup - which is still without a sponsor - was drawn on Monday, with the games to be played on 25 and 26 August.

The format could be redrawn for next season, though, with some clubs keen for a group stage and introducing an element of summer football.

"There's been discussion around the possibility of group stages being introduced earlier the summer and we're open to any possibility that's going to refresh the competition and improve it," said Doncaster.

"There's a desire to use what we have of the summer as best we can. The possibility has been raised of bringing the League Cup into July. Let's see where the discussion goes and what the clubs want to do.

Queen of the South player/manager James Fowler and Morton's Joe McKee at Hampden Park
Queen of the South player/manager James Fowler and Morton's Joe McKee at Monday's draw

"We will have four teams playing very early in European qualifiers. That's the reality of where our coefficient is and we have to get used to that."

Doncaster is also hopeful that by holding out for a specific level of sponsorship deal, the SPFL will land a partner for the League Cup that is similar in stature to Ladbrokes, who are now title sponsors of all four divisions.

"The experience with Ladbrokes coming in to sponsor the league shows that holding out for the right partner, the right value is the right thing to do," he said.

"The clubs are to be commended for being bold and being steadfast for wanting to wait for the right fit for the league title sponsorship.

"They've been rewarded with Ladbrokes and it's important that we wait for the right fit for the league cup as well."

League reconstruction is also being discussed by clubs, in particular the size of the 12-team top-flight. Recent amendments, such as the Premiership play-offs, will remain, having proved successful since their implementation.

"Who's to say what the future holds," Doncaster said. "For the moment, this is what we have and it works well. Last season, with the 12-team top-flight plus the play-offs there was a huge amount of excitement and talking points at both ends of the table. Long may that continue.

"The only certainty with any structure is that people explore other structures. People are always looking for the perfect league structure and that doesn't exist.

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster is open to changing the League Cup

"What we have at the moment works very well, it creates lots of interesting games and excitement at the end of the season. If we are to allow any possible new structure then it's essential those element remains.

"Let's keep an open mind. We're in the final year of the three-year lockdown period and let's see where discussion takes us in the future."

Doncaster also revealed that an investigation into events following the final whistle at Fir Park in the second leg of the Premiership play-off final last season is still ongoing.

Motherwell fans invaded the pitch after their team's 6-1 aggregate victory, while the Ranges defender Bilel Mohsni was involved in altercations with three Motherwell players.

"We're continuing to look at that game and there might be something to announce in due course," Doncaster said. "It's not closed."