What is Scottish League Cup?
The Scottish League Cup, currently recognised as the Premier Sports Cup for sponsorship purposes, is a competition open to all Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) outfits.
First held in the 1946–47 season, it’s the oldest national League Cup in existence. The competition had a direct knockout format but became a group and knockout competition from the 2016–17 campaign.
Rangers are the record champions of the cup, winning 27 times. St Johnstone are the current winners, after beating Livingston 1–0 at Hampden Park earlier this year.
The cup has its roots in a regional cup competition named the Southern League Cup which was introduced back in 1940 when wartime limitations led to a suspension of the Scottish Cup.
This tournament was largely regional and didn’t involve all of the clubs who comprised the Scottish Football League before the outbreak of war.
The first official Scottish Football League Cup was held during the 1946–47 season when Rangers defeated Aberdeen in the final.
The competition was well-liked with fans during the first few decades of its existence. The tournament consisted of eight or nine groups consisting of four of five teams.
The groups were seeded into two sets with the top 16 outfits in Division 1 making up the first four groups. This guaranteed that four ‘top’ sides would play four ‘lesser’ clubs in the quarter-finals.
Extra matches when the Premier League was established and expanded European competitions meant that by the early 1980s, its long-winded system, which involved group rounds played early in the campaign leading to two-legged knock-out phases, attracted much criticism.
In the mid-1980s the tournament was remodelled to a shorter, single-elimination knock-out format with a final played before Christmas, which provided the excitement of a cup final early in the term.
From the 2016–17 term, the League Cup reverted to a group stage structure, with single-elimination knock-out in the last 16 onwards.
Who are the traditional favourites?
As mentioned above, Rangers have the most titles (27), followed by Celtic (19). Historically and at the moment, like the league, these two clubs are named as the main favourites in the cup.
Scottish League Cup – 2021/22 season (odds)
After several years of unsuccessful attempts, we can expect that Steven Gerrard’s Rangers will most likely not reduce their concentration on the 2021/22 Scottish League Cup campaign and will try to win it.