Hearts, Hibs and Edinburgh City learn Betfred Cup dates as group phase runs during international breaks
Hearts and Edinburgh City’s competitive seasons is due to start on Tuesday, October 6, when the Betfred Cup group phase begins. They enter the competition at that stage alongside city rivals Hibs, with the Championship and League 2 seasons set to kick off 11 days later.
The Betfred Cup fixture dates were revealed today after the tournament was put back from its normal July start due to the coronavirus pandemic. Group games take place through October and November, with the second round coming at the end of November.
The quarter-finals are scheduled for mid-December, semi-finals will be on January 23 and 24, 2021, and the final is set for Sunday, February 28.
The October and November dates clash with international breaks, which could pose problems for Hearts, Hibs and a host of other sides if players are called up by their countries.
Clubs are likely to be forced into fielding weakened teams without internationalists as Nations League ties take precedence during the autumn. Postponing domestic matches would be unlikely due to an already-congested fixture list.
Hearts are currently embroiled in an arbitration process after launching a legal bid to reverse last season’s relegation. If that fails, they will remain in the Championship, which is due to begin on October 17. Should they win their case, they would be reinstated to the Premiership and kick off on August 1.
The 2020/21 Betfred Cup could also welcome Highland League winners Brora Rangers and Lowland League champions Kelty Hearts if they agree to an offer to enter.
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: “Last season’s Betfred Cup was a hugely successful competition and we are looking forward to the same combination of excitement and passion this season.
“The process of scheduling the SPFL’s premier cup competition has been made much more difficult this year due to the disruption caused by Covid-19, but we are delighted to be in a position to confirm five uninterrupted rounds of fixtures once again.
“The innovations made to the competition in the last few seasons have proved to be a real winner with clubs and supporters alike.
“We are extremely grateful to our friends at Premier Sports, Betfred and the Scottish FA for their flexibility in agreeing this season’s Betfred Cup schedule.
“We wish all the clubs the best of luck in their quest to reach next year’s final.”
Mark Pearson, head of media at Betfred, said: “Season 2020/21 marks the fifth year of our extremely enjoyable and successful title sponsorship of the Betfred Cup.
"We are delighted that the dates for the new season are now confirmed and we are looking forward to another thrilling competition.
"From the competitiveness of the group stage to the drama of the Final at Hampden Park, the Betfred Cup never disappoints in delivering memorable moments and we cannot wait to see what the coming season brings. Best of luck to all the teams taking part.”
Richard Webb, director of operations at Premier Sports, said: “It is terrific news that, despite all the issues Covid-19 has created within football, the SPFL has been able to replicate the same successful format for this season’s Betfred Cup.
“We are excited to be entering our first season showcasing the biggest games from the two major cup competitions in Scotland and look forward to being the home of Scottish knockout football from this autumn onwards.”
FULL BETFRED CUP FIXTURES:
Match day 1 – Tuesday 6 October 2020
Match day 2 – Saturday 10 October 2020
Match day 3 – Tuesday 13 October 2020
Match day 4 – Tuesday 10 November 2020
Match day 5 – Saturday 14 November 2020
Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 November 2020
Tuesday 15, Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 December 2020
Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 January 2021
Sunday 28 February 2021
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