The SPFL has today confirmed a number of key dates for the 2016/17 season, including the return of a pre-Christmas conclusion for the Scottish League Cup.
In the latest announcement relating to the reformatted national cup competition, next season’s Scottish League Cup Final – screened live by new broadcast partner BT Sport – will take place on Sunday 27 November, the first time it will be held in that month since 1998.
The 2016/17 season starts with the group stages of the new format of the Scottish League Cup when eight groups of five teams will play each other once each in a round-robin format across five July dates, subject to TV selections. This new 80-game group stage will involve all 38 teams not involved in UEFA qualifiers plus the winners of this season’s Highland and Lowland League.
As previously announced, the four Ladbrokes-sponsored leagues will all kick off on the weekend of Saturday 6 August, while it has now been confirmed that the Ladbrokes Premiership three-week winter break will start immediately after the New Year fixture round and end with the Scottish Cup fourth-round fixtures on 21 January.
The regular Ladbrokes Championship, League 1 and League 2 seasons (bar play-off matches) conclude on the weekend of Saturday 6 May while the 38th and final fixtures of the Ladbrokes Premiership season for all clubs bar the team finishing in 11th place will be played on the weekend of Saturday 20 May.
The final SPFL fixture of the season, the Premiership play-off final second leg, will take place on Sunday 28 May (unless either finalist is also a Scottish Cup finalist, in which event the play-off final second leg will be moved to the following midweek).
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: “We’re very pleased to announce more of the key dates for the SPFL’s league and cup competitions next season.
“Significantly, the Scottish League Cup semi-finals and final will again be contested before the end of the year which we know is something a large number of supporters and stakeholders, including the media, were very keen on.
“With dates also confirmed for the new Scottish League Cup group stage, all four leagues kicking off on the same weekend and the Ladbrokes Premiership play-off final dates confirmed, we believe that season 2016/17 will bring a huge amount of freshness and even more excitement to Scottish football and its supporters.”
Since March 2000 all League Cup finals have taken place in spring, with the last November final being Rangers’ 2-1 victory over St Johnstone at Celtic Park in 1998.
The full fixture lists for the 2016/17 season are expected to be announced in June.