SPFL confirm major change to national cup as Hearts and Hibs possible opponents booted out

 Airdrie lift the SPFL Trust Trophy during the SPFL Trust Trophy Final match between The New Saints and Airdrieonians at Falkirk Stadium Airdrie lift the SPFL Trust Trophy during the SPFL Trust Trophy Final match between The New Saints and Airdrieonians at Falkirk Stadium
Airdrie lift the SPFL Trust Trophy during the SPFL Trust Trophy Final match between The New Saints and Airdrieonians at Falkirk Stadium
The governing body have made a significant change to the format of one of the countries national cup competitions.

The SPFL have confirmed a major change to the format of the Challenge Cup, currently known as the SPFL Trust Trophy, ahead of next season.

The competition will now only involve teams from Scotland having previously seen clubs from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland invited in past seasons. Teams from the other British countries and Ireland were first invited into the competition in the 2016/17 season to compete alongside clubs from the Championship, League One, League Two, Highland League, Lowland League and Premiership B teams.

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During their involvement no club from outside of Scotland was able to lift the cup bu Welsh side Connah's Quay Nomads were the first to reach the final in 2019 but were beaten 3-1 by Ross County. Last season The New Saints, also from Wales, became the second non-Scottish club to make the final but Airdrieonians ensure the cup would stay in Scotland with a 2-1 win.

The SPFL also announced an increase in prize money for the competition with next season’s winners set to receive £100,000, which is a 100% increase on the amount won by Airdrieonians last season. The draw for the opening rounds of the SPFL Trust Trophy will take place in early July.

Neil Doncaster, group chief executive of the SPFL, said: “We’re really pleased to announce record prize money for the SPFL Trust Trophy next season. The SPFL Trust have been fantastic supporters of this important cup competition. Their investment, and the continuing generosity of James and Morag Anderson, is greatly appreciated.

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“We have very much enjoyed the participation of cross-border teams, who have competed in six seasons of this competition since they first joined in Season 2016/17. However, their involvement does further complicate our already congested fixture schedule. Hence the SPFL Trust Trophy will revert to a Scottish-only competition next season. We are delighted to welcome five Highland League clubs and six Lowland League clubs into the SPFL Trust Trophy next season.”

Hearts and Hibs B teams are set to compete in the competition once again next season and will enter in Round One alongside the five Highland League Clubs and six Lowland League clubs. Those teams are: Buckie Thistle, Brechin City, Fraserburgh, Banks o’Dee, Formartine United, East Kilbride, Bo’ness United, Albion Rovers, Cowdenbeath, Berwick Rangers and East Stirlingshire.

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