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IRN-BRU Cup: How much will your club make, who is involved and where will games be pl
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IT'S the Challenge Cup Jim, but not as we know it.

The competition has undergone a radical transformation this summer to the point that supporters may not be able to recognise it.

New teams, new sponsor, new name and new TV deals.

Here, we take a detailed look at the revamp based on information sent in a briefing note to SPFL clubs ahead of last week's announcement.
What on earth is going on?

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THE Challenge Cup has undergone a major revamp. The tournament, which has always been for clubs outside the top-flight, will now feature 12 Premiership under-20s sides, four clubs each from the Lowland League and Highland League, two teams from Northern Ireland and two sides from Wales.

In total, 54 sides will be involved. The Challenge Cup will now be referred to as the IRN-BRU Cup following confirmation of a sponsorship deal.
Why are they doing this?
IN the briefing note to member clubs, the SPFL said the competition aims to:

*Raise the profile of Scottish Football throughout the UK.

*Establish the principle of cross-border competition with a view to future developments in the game across Europe.

*Strengthen ties between the SPFL, Highland League, Lowland League, Northern Ireland Football League and Welsh Premier League.

*Create further opportunities for Premiership under-20 players to play in competitive matches.Who voted for this?
THE format was given the green light by the SPFL Board, which is made up of club representatives, following recommendations by the SPFL Competitions Working Group which is, again, made up of club representatives. UEFA have also given the new-look tournament their blessing.

The briefing note says the competition's new format has "already been seen" by clubs at "divisional meetings" over the past few months.How is this going to work?
THERE will be seven rounds with the competition launching in August and the final scheduled to be held next March and the format is as follows:

First Round: Tuesday/Wednesday, August 2/3

Featuring eight clubs from League Two, all 12 top-flight under-20s teams and four sides each from both the Lowland League and Highland League.

Second round: Tuesday/Wednesday, August 16/17

The 14 first-round winners are joined by the remaining two League Two teams and eight clubs from League One.

Third round: Saturday/Sunday, September 3/4

The 12 second-round winners are joined by the remaining two League One teams and all 10 Championship sides.

Fourth round: Saturday/Sunday, October 8/9

The 12 third-round winners are joined by two teams from the Northern Irish Premiership and two clubs from the Welsh Premier League.

Quarter-finals: Saturday/Sunday, November 12/13

Semi-finals: Saturday/Sunday, February 18/19

Final: Saturday, March 25 or Sunday, March 26


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Who are the new clubs involved in the competition from Scotland?
THE Premiership under-20s sides are: Aberdeen, Celtic, Dundee, Hamilton Accies, Hearts, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Kilmarnock, Motherwell, Partick Thistle, Rangers, Ross County and St Johnstone.

The Lowland League sides are: Cumbernauld Colts, East Stirlingshire, Spartans and Stirling University.

The Highland League sides are: Brora Rangers, Cove Rangers, Formartine United and Turriff United.And who is taking part from Northern Ireland and Wales?
THE most-successful club in Ulster, Linfield, will be involved with Crusaders who have won the Danske Bank Premiership title in each of the last two seasons. Both teams are from Belfast.

The Welsh representatives are The New Saints (TNS), who have won the Premier League title five years in a row, and Bala Town. TNS are based in the English border town of Oswestry, Shropshire, while Bala is on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park in Gwynedd.When is the draw for the first round?
THE SPFL had it pencilled in for Tuesday, June 14 but is now expected to take place next week.Will there be a travel allowance for clubs forced to cross borders to play matches?
YES. The briefing note states that a club travelling to another country for an IRN-BRU Cup match will receive a travel allowance of £4,000.


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Will there be any seeding or regionalisation?
YES. The first, second and third rounds will be both seeded and regionalised.

The fourth round, quarter-finals and semi-finals will be regionalised to keep the Northern Irish and Welsh teams apart.Will gate money be shared?
YES. Up to and including the semi-finals, cash at the turnstiles will be shared equally following the standard 10 per cent deduction from the home club for matchday costs. The gate for the final is split equally between the two clubs participating once costs are deducted.Where will games be played?
CLUBS drawn at home can use their registered ground or up to "two other nominated and approved grounds" to play their tie.

For the sake of discussion, if Celtic's under-20s are drawn at home to Stirling Albion, they could use Parkhead or apply to stage the match at Morton's Cappielow ground, which they have used on several occasions.

Clubs wishing to move a fixture away from their registered ground must apply to SPFL secretary Ian Blair for permission.What about loan players and trialists?
YOUNGSTERS on a Development Loan from a Premiership outfit will be eligible to play for their parent club's under-20s in the IRN-BRU Cup, with the exception of those who are cup-tied. No trialists are permitted which means only signed and registered players can feature in games.How much will my club make in prize money?
THE distribution is as follows:

First Round losers: £3,500.

Second Round losers: £5,250.

Third Round losers: £5,500.

Fourth Round losers: £5,750.

Quarter-final losers: £8,250.

Semi-final losers: £10,250.

Runners-Up: £12,750.

Winners: £17,750.

In season 2015-16, clubs knocked out in the first round received £3,000 in prize money.


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Will Premiership under-20s teams be eligible to receive prize money?
YES. Every club taking part will receive something from the prize pot.Will the games be shown on TV?
YES. As well as a contract with BBC ALBA, the Welsh Language channel S4C will show up to five matches live while the Premier Sports subscription channel will cover between six and eight games live.Will there be extra payments if my club is live on TV?
NO. The briefing note says that, due to the increased number of live games, the SPFL board has decided "not to allocate television facility fee payments," and instead "maximise prize money".Are there any other benefits for clubs?
YES. All 54 clubs will receive £740 of stock from AG Barr, the competition sponsors, which will normally come in the form of Strathmore bottled water.
  




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