Browsing the TV guide this morning, searching for my weekend sports fix, I happened to spot the ‘Scottish League Cup draw’ on BT Sports scheduled for Friday night.
Early, I thought, a mere five days after the season ended. More importantly, I thought it absurd that with a draw to be held in just over a day, there had been little to no news about the format of this competition., or indeed, that a draw was taking place.
As the day trickled on, more information was released. We knew there would be a group stage. Until today there had been no word of what format this would take. Some said regional, others said national. Some predicted north, east, south and west, while others prophesised doom as massively mismatched groups were drawn.
At around midday, the plans which were previously clear as mud, became as clear as – well – slightly clearer mud.
- The split will be along north and south lines (although, presumably due to numbers, Dumbarton, definitely based in the south, have been added to the north pots). The competition will be seeded, with each group featuring five teams. One top seed, one second and three of the rest.
- Teams will play each other once, with BT planning to broadcast 13 games over the course of the competition this season.
- In the event of a draw, teams will take part in a bonus point penalty shootout.
- The group winner and the four best second placed teams will progress to the knockout rounds, giving 12 teams, joined by those clubs competing in European competition to make up the last 16 of the competition.
Much of this had been mooted for months. There had been hints. The bonus penalty system, for example, was known. The format of the groups was not.
The big reveal got the discussion going at a fair rate among friends as hundreds of messages were sent regarding the competition , within seconds of this information being made public!
I jest of course. Nobody had noticed the big launch. Posted on the BBC and (apparently) published in a newspaper.
This is a problem with Scottish football.
I applaud those in charge of our game for the changes. They have taken the fairly drab League Cup and added some excitement. They have managed to find a sponsor and a TV deal for a competition that many felt was a lost cause (The ‘Diddy’ Cup).
How do we announce these changes and confirm the details? In as hushed a way as possible, readily available only to those that happen to be browsing the BBC Sport website on their lunch break. The day before the draw, no less.
Frankly, if the BBC hadn’t published their article today, the draw would have come and gone and few would have been aware.
While Friday night at 19:30 might be peak viewing time for certain shows, I can’t see the family packed round the TV, desperate to see which ‘giant’ of the Scottish game will make the draw. Sweat dripping as they await the moment their team is drawn.
We have a sponsorship deal, we have a TV deal, yet we seem unable to market our own game.
It is time for those in charge to get out and promote our game. These are the changes, this is what is happening, get on board!
Instead, as is too often the case, fans are left out of the loop until the last minute.
Perhaps, we should be grateful that we were informed at all.