I suspect that Neil Doncaster et al. are feeling quite pleased with themselves this morning.
Of course, he has been, and will continue to be a less than popular figure in Scottish football, however, he seems to have done well here.
I had been critical of the lack of clarity given to fans on the proposals, with the details eventually released the day before the draw and I stand by that criticism.
The draw was completed last night and I want to look at the positives of the new format. Fans have been calling for change for years and significant change has finally been delivered in one of our cup competitions.
The draw was a success
Scottish football doesn’t always carry out the most successful draws. No, seriously. However, last night was spot on. Given the complicated draw system it was perhaps unsurprising that Doncaster stood with script in hand, the draw performed with military precision. Although it would be incredibly ‘Scottish football’ to make a mess of the big launch draw, they avoided that fate. Credit where it’s due.
It also looked good. Previously the draw for the League Cup early rounds would be filmed on a mobile phone and broadcast live on YouTube, if at all. The slick HD presentation added a professional touch.
Fans of the game in Scotland have bemoaned the league system that sees teams playing each other four times over the course of the season.
However, the eight groups that were drawn last night provide opportunities for fans to visit new grounds and watch their teams play against new opposition.
Where in the old knockout format there was a chance that you could maybe play one or two teams from outwith your league every year, the group format makes it a certainty. For example, every single club involved will have the opportunity to play a top flight team.
East Stirlingshire certainly won’t be the only club checking the calendar to see when they last played a particular opponent.
— East Stirlingshire (@TheShireFC) May 27, 2016
Innovative Bonus Point
If, after 90 minutes the match ends in a draw, the teams will take part in a penalty shootout for a bonus point.
This is a first in world football (I believe) and it will add some extra entertainment for the fans.
We know the old routines of a penalty shootout as fans crowd behind a goal desperate to distract the onrushing penalty taker. Supporters of some Scottish football clubs will never have experienced the drama of a penalty shootout, yet with this new system there is a fair chance that everyone will.
These penalty shootouts could be the difference between first and second, or the difference between being one of the best second placed teams or not.
Many fans have called for the creation of regionalisation at the lower end of the senior game in Scotland. For one reason or another, this idea is unlikely to ever gain serious traction.
However, it certainly can work in a Cup competition and this was proven last night. The format makes big, well attended games more likely.
This will help those in charge of marketing our game as large travelling supports make short trips to play important matches.
Examples include Dundee United and Dunfermline, Motherwell and Rangers and Kilmarnock and Morton.
Overall then, there are a lot of positives to take from the new format. If BT make sensible choices in terms of televised games, and continue with their high standard of presentation, Scottish football might just be on to a winner.