Dunfermline have questioned the sense in including teams from outwith the country in a Scottish national cup competition.
The East End Park club have been drawn against English Vanarama National League side Boreham Wood in the second round of the Irn-Bru Challenge Cup, which also welcomed teams from Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland Wales into the second round of the tournament.
But while manager Allan Johnston is bewildered by their inclusion, he is irked by the fact they are handed a first-round bye.
“I still don’t understand why these teams are in our competition in the first place,” said Johnston. “I also don’t understand why they come in in later rounds. Surely if they are going to take part in the tournament they should come in in the first round?
“But it’s a Scottish competition. I think it should be for Scottish clubs.”
“I don’t know where else, in any other country or league, you would find opposition from different leagues in a [domestic] cup competition,” added Pars winger Kallum Higginbotham. “I just can’t get my head round that.
“It is what it is. We need to go down there and play the game but it is not ideal. I wouldn’t say the teams are disregarding the competition, it is another cup competition after all, but it is definitely not high on the priority list.”
Clubs crossing borders for an IRN-BRU Cup tie are granted a £4000 travel allowance but flights and overnight accommodation for the trip to Hertfordshire could come at a cost and eat into prize money the club will earn for reaching the second round.
“I think they’re just trying to get us as far away as possible,” added Johnston. “It was Inverness in the last round, now Boreham Wood.”
But he and Higginbotham agreed that while they could see no valid reason for opening up the tournament to teams from four other countries, there was as freshness to the fixture, which is scheduled for Saturday, 8 September .
“At the end of the day it’s different. It’s better than playing teams in the same league or even a Colt team,” said Johnston. “I would much rather play Boreham Wood than an under-21 team.”