Exclusive: Irish Teams Approached Over Joining Challenge Cup

Hedges and Heartache has learned that Teams from the Irish Premiership have been approached to join the Challenge Cup, possibly from as early as next season.

The plan would see two Irish teams entering the competition at the same stage as the Welsh and Northern Irish teams.

Stranraer FC Chairman and member of the SPFL’s Cup Committee, Iain Dougan confirmed that an approach has been made.

He said “If that’s acceptable and the dates can be worked out there could be winners and runners up from Ireland as well”.

Irish broadcasters have been sounded out about their interest in broadcasting live matches.

It is also believed that English clubs may be invited to join the competition, however that is a long-term plan which is unlikely to be pursued for next season.

The Cup Committee has yet to receive a response from the Irish clubs, but the plan will be on the agenda at their next meeting.

If the plan goes ahead, teams like Dundalk, who played in the Europa League group stage, could enter the competition next season.

However, it is understood that there are potential hurdles in the way.
Scheduling fixtures could pose a problem, with the Irish season running from February to October.

The Challenge Cup was extended at the beginning of the season to include Premiership youth teams, Welsh teams and Northern Irish teams.

The semi-finals in this season’s competition will be played in February, with St Mirren taking on Welsh side The New Saints and Queen of the South hosting Dundee United.

Games have been broadcast by BBC Alba, Premier Sports and S4C this season.

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