The SPFL has today announced the First Round Group Stage fixtures for the 2016 Betfred Cup kicking off on Friday, 15 July, including the first five selections by the competition’s exclusive live broadcaster BT Sport.
Scottish football fans are in for a treat with 80 group stage matches taking place across 17 days in July, including an initial five games being chosen for live broadcast on BT Sport 1:
- Friday, 15 July – Group C – Arbroath v Dundee United – 7.45pm kick-off
- Saturday, 16 July – Group F – Motherwell v Rangers – 3pm kick-off
- Friday, 22 July – Group F – East Stirlingshire v Rangers – 7.45pm kick-off
- Saturday, 23 July – Group B – St Johnstone v Falkirk – 3pm kick-off
- Monday, 25 July – Group F – Rangers v Stranraer – 7.45pm kick-off
The final round of Group Stage games scheduled to take place on Saturday, 30 July and Sunday, 31 July are all subject to TV selection. The group stage uses the traditional three points for a win and one point for a draw model however all drawn matches will go straight to a penalty shootout whereby the winner of the penalty shoot-out will be awarded a bonus point.
The eight group winners and four best runners-up progress to the Second Round, when they are joined by the four UEFA qualifying clubs and the competition reverts to traditional knockout format. The competition concludes with the Betfred Cup Final at Hampden Park on Sunday, 27 November, live on BT Sport 1.
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: “Following the Betfred Cup Group Stage draw, today’s announcement of the group fixtures and BT Sport’s initial broadcast selections heightens the anticipation for the competition’s big kick-off in mid-July. There are some really cracking matches in prospect to be enjoyed by supporters of the 40 clubs involved and by those watching on BT Sport 1 from across Scotland and beyond.”
The fixtures for the Betfred Cup Group Stage follow a design from UEFA used previously for the UEFA Cup. Each Club plays one game at home and the other away against the two clubs drawn immediately below it in the group. Club 1 plays Club 2 at home and Club 3 away; Club 2 plays Club 3 at home and Club 4 away and so on. This criteria is circular so that the Clubs “immediately below” Club 5 are Club 1 and Club 2 in that order. This mechanism ensures that each Club will play four games in the Group (two at home and two away). The actual schedule of the matches considers live broadcast selections, avoiding geographical clashes (e.g. Dundee and Dundee United will not be at home on the same day) and other constraints the SPFL is aware of. However it does not alter which club plays which other club home or away – that is already set by the Group Draw.