Revamped Challenge Cup sees addition of ‘colt’ teams alongside Welsh and Northern Irish sides

Rangers won last year's Challenge Cup.
Rangers won last year's Challenge Cup.

It is understood that the SPFL have agreed extensive changes to the format of the Challenge Cup for the 2016/17 season.

U20s teams from the Premiership sides will join the top two sides from the Welsh and Northern Irish leagues in what was once a competition solely for the Scottish lower leagues and Highland and Lowland leagues.

TV deals are in place for all three countries to cover the competition’s latter stages with a new sponsorship deal set to be announced in due course.

Premiership U20s sides will be in the competition from the opening round while the Champions and runners-up from Wales and Northern Ireland enter in the fourth round.

The full structure will be as follows:-

First round: 12 Premiership U20s, teams placed 3-10 in League Two as well as 4 Highland League and 4 Lowland League teams

Second round: 14 winners from round one, teams placed 1 and 2 in League Two and teams placed 3-10 in League One

Third round: 12 winners from round two, 10 Championship clubs, teams 1 and 2 in League One

Fourth round: 12 winners from round three, 2 teams from Northern Ireland, 2 teams from Wales