The SPFL have announced that Sutton United and Boreham Wood will join clubs from Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales in next season’s competition.
The two English teams - the highest-ranked Vanarama National League sides in 2017/18 still competing in the division - will enter the second round, alongside Bohemians and Bray Wanderers, Crusaders and Coleraine, plus The New Saints and Connah’s Quay Nomads.
Neil Doncaster, SPFL chief executive, said: “The IRN-BRU Cup remains an innovative and evolving competition, and we are pleased to now extend a warm welcome to the National League and their representatives, Sutton United and Boreham Wood.
“We look forward to developing a positive relationship with our counterparts in England, just as we have with representatives from the leagues of Northern Ireland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland over the last two years.”
The tournament welcomed two teams each Northern Ireland and Wales for the 2016/2017 edition, plus all Ladbrokes Premiership under-20 Colt teams, as well as additional clubs from the Highland and Lowland Leagues.
Last season’s competition, which was won by Inverness Caledonian Thistle at St Johnston’s McDiarmid park, saw two teams from the League of Ireland take part.
Michael Tattersall, Vanarama National League chief executive, said: “We were pleased to accept the SPFL’s invitation to participate in next year’s competition. We believe our two clubs will benefit from playing in an international competition and we look forward to establishing new relationships with the other leagues involved.”
Adrian Troy, marketing director at IRN-BRU, added: “We’re really excited that the IRN-BRU Cup has now become a unique club competition featuring teams from all around Britain and Ireland. The competition has proven popular with players, coaches and supporters, who’ve enjoyed the challenge of facing different opposition and travelling to new corners of the UK.
“We’re pleased to welcome Sutton United and Boreham Wood to the IRN-BRU Cup and wish them the best of luck for this season’s competition.”
The draw for the first round will take place on 26 June.