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The Irn Bru Challenge Cup – A Step in the Right Direction

Date: 19th August 2016

By Fraser Campbell, Marketing and Content Executive at 360 Sports Consultancy

The new format of the Irn Bru can be seen to be a step forward for development in Scottish football and will provide a link between other football associations.

54 teams entered this years competition; all 10 Championship, League One and League Two teams were entered as usual, with the introduction of the top 4 Lowland and Highland League sides. Additionally, 2 teams from Northern Ireland and 2 teams from Wales have been entered into the tournament. Most importantly however, all 12 sides from the Premier League have entered their under-20 teams.

The inclusion of under-20’s sides is set to be the most important factor in promoting development in Scottish football. It gives youth players a chance to play competitive games against senior teams which can only be beneficial towards their development as players. These games are televised, giving supporters an opportunity to see what is to come from their team’s youth.

Playing competitive matches against senior sides is vital for the development of youth players. Just look at the likes of Germany and Spain. In Germany players involved in the youth system at senior clubs play in the 3rd and 4th tier, playing against senior professional teams. In Spain youth players playing against senior sides is even more prevalent. Barcelona B and Real Madrid Castilla play in the second tier of Spanish football and just look at the players who have played for these teams. Juan Mate, Iker Casillas, Raul, Carles Puyol, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Xavi to name a few. It is no wonder that these nations consistently perform well at major tournaments.

Although in Scotland we haven’t quite started putting our youth teams into the lower leagues but the inclusion of youth in the Challenge Cup this year is certainly positive moving forward. Hopefully, if these sides perform well it will act as a catalyst for the SFA to discuss the possibility of adding youth teams into senior football in the years to come. I wholeheartedly believe it can only be a positive development for Scottish football and may even give us the chance of actually qualifying for a major tournament in the near future.


The Draw:

North Section: Alloa Atheltic v East Fife Brechin City v Dunfermline Dundee United v Peterhead Turiff United v Hibernian Falkirk v Elgin City Forfar Athletic v Raith Rovers

South Section: Queen of the South v Stenhousemuir Stranraer v Dumbarton Livingston v Celtic Colts Albion Rovers v St Mirren Ayr United v Airdrieonians Queen’s Park v Morton


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