Winter break and League Cup bonus points part of Scottish football revamp
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Winter break and League Cup bonus points part of Scottish football revamp

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The Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) has transformed its schedule with the reintroduction of a winter break and a revamped League Cup competition.

Taking effect from the 2016/17 season, Scottish Premiership clubs will benefit from a two-week winter break from January 2017. A winter break had previously been introduced in 2002/03, but scrapped after one season.

Talks are ongoing between the SPFL and the Championship, League One and League Two clubs to establish whether they are in favour of implementing a similar break.

As part of the rejig, the Scottish League Cup will introduce a group stage, beginning in July 2016, that will see all 38 clubs not involved in UEFA qualifiers compete – as well as the winners of the Highland League and Lowland League – and which will include a bonus point initiative.

The format will see eight groups of five teams play each other once, and will use the traditional three points for a win, one point for a draw model. However, all drawn matches will go straight to a penalty shoot-out where the winner will receive a bonus point.

Eight group winners and the four better-performing runners-up will progress to the second round, where they will be joined by the UEFA qualifying teams. The competition will revert to a straight knock-out format thereafter.

The alterations will contribute financially to all the clubs involved following a television deal struck between the SPFL and BT Sport, which will see a reported £8m (US$12.1m, €11m) shared between the clubs over a four-year deal (2016-2020).

The pay-TV provider will broadcast 13 of the League Cup games: six from the group stages and seven from the knock-out rounds. It already airs several Scottish Premiership league games.

“Fans, the media and clubs alike have expressed a desire for competitive summer football which will be delivered from next July while the ground-breaking bonus point system should add incentive to teams and excitement to supporters,” said SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster.

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The Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) has transformed its schedule with the reintroduction of a winter break and a revamped League Cup competition.
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Celtic won the last League Cup before the format reshuffle / SPFL
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