SPFL releases details of winter break and new League Cup

THE Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) has released more details ahead of the 2016/17 season.

Scottish football games during the winter months can often be hit by snow. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

All four divisions in Scotland - the Scottish Premiership, Scottish Championship, League One and League Two - will all kick-off the 2016/17 league campaign on the weekend of August 6 and 7.

But the season itself will start on July 16th, as the new-look Scottish League Cup gets under way.

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Eight groups of five teams will play each other once in round-robin system across five dates in July - the 16th, 20th, 23rd, 27th and 30th - and will involve all 38 teams not participating in UEFA qualifiers, plus the 2015/16 winners of the Highland League and Lowland League.

The winter break, reintroduced for the first time since the 1999/00 season, will see a three-week break for league matches in January 2017.

Managers of Scottish teams criticised the removal of a winter break at the time, with Alex McLeish, Jim Duffy, Walter Smith and Martin O’Neill calling for the hiatus to be reinstated.

Other football leagues with a winter break include the Turkish Süper Lig (one month); Ligue 1 in France (one month) and the Russian Premier League, which has a three-month winter break from mid-December to mid-March.

Spain’s La Liga has a short break for Christmas and New Year along with the Italian top flight Serie A, while the German Bundesliga has a six-week winter break, starting in mid-December and lasting until the end of January.