League Cup to change after Hearts double booked

Hearts and St Johnstone will play on the opening weekend of the Scottish Premiership season. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Hearts and St Johnstone will play on the opening weekend of the Scottish Premiership season. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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THE SPFL are set to change the entry rules for the League Cup after being faced with the crazy situation of having Hearts double booked on day one of the season.

The runaway Championship winners will unfurl the flag and open up their Premiership campaign at packed-out Tynecastle against St Johnstone on Sunday, 2 August.

However, due to rules inherited from the Scottish Football League, Hearts are also scheduled to play in the first round of the League Cup the same weekend.

That means they will have to move their tie to the midweek before or after, with the draw being made today at Hampden by ex-manager Alex MacDonald and former Celt Joe Miller.

The problem lies in the qualification process. The rule is that all teams outwith the top flight at the start of the previous season compete in round one.

Dundee and Hamilton also had to play in the first round last season on the same weekend, but it did not clash with the opening day of the Premiership which was a week later.

SPFL secretary Iain Blair knows it is a rule that needs to be reformed and it should be done for next season. He said: “This is a situation we inherited from the Scottish Football League where they used the positions at the start of the previous season to determine the clubs in the first round of the League Cup.

“The Scottish Cup and Petrofac Cup use the positions at the end of the season for their draws.

“We know it is something that needs to be altered and we will be looking to amend this rule going forward.

“What will happen is that Hearts will play their Premiership match as scheduled on 2 August and the League Cup tie will either be the midweek before or after depending on circumstances.”

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