|Number of teams||28 (1990)
32 (2011– )
|Current champions||Falkirk (4th time)|
|Most successful club(s)||Falkirk (4 titles)|
|Television broadcasters||BBC Alba|
|Website||Scottish Challenge Cup|
|2011–12 Scottish Challenge Cup|
The Scottish Football League Challenge Cup, commonly known as the Scottish Challenge Cup, is a knockout football cup competition organised by the Scottish Football League. Entry is open to the 30 member clubs of the Scottish Football League and from 2011 the two highest ranked clubs of the Highland Football League are invited to compete. In June 2011 the cup was named the Ramsdens Cup for sponsorship reasons.
The competition is of a knockout format. Ties are one-legged with each game lasting 90 minutes. In the event of a tie after normal time, the game continues into extra time until a clear winner is decided. If there is no clear winner after extra time the game is decided by a penalty shootout. The competition commences early in the Scottish football season. The first round is often played on a Saturday, usually the week before the beginning of the Scottish Football League season, although in recent years SFL sides qualifying for the UEFA Cup have made this unfeasible and the round has been held midweek. The rest of the competition, up to and including the semi-finals, are also played midweek. The final usually takes place on a Saturday or Sunday in October or November, at a neutral stadium located close to the two competing clubs.
The first round is divided into two geographical areas - North/East and South/West - each consisting of 15 clubs. Up until 2010, 7 ties were drawn from each area and 1 club received a random bye to the second round. However, for the 2011–12 season, the competition included two Highland Football League clubs for the first time, Buckie Thistle and Deveronvale, thus increasing the number of competing clubs to 32; this means 8 ties from each area will take place meaning no teams will receive a random bye to the second round.
Matches in the Challenge Cup are usually played at the home ground of one of the two teams, except the final. The team who plays at home is decided when the matches are drawn. There is no seeding system in place within rounds, therefore the home team is simply the first team drawn out for each fixture. Occasionally games may have to be moved to other grounds due to other events taking place, security reasons or a ground not being suitable to host popular teams. In the event of a draw, the match will go on to extra time to decide the result, with a penalty shootout deciding the winner if no winner is determined in extra time.
The Scottish Challenge Cup Final is played at a neutral venue, usually one which is geographically close to the two teams in the final. However, this can often not be the case as in with the 2010 Scottish Challenge Cup Final between Queen of the South of Dumfries and Ross County of Dingwall; the clubs separated by 285 miles, meeting almost half way at McDiarmid Park in Perth; still over 140 miles from each club. The first ever venue to host a final was Fir Park in Motherwell in 1990 and has gone on to host the final another three times. Other venues to host the final more than once include McDiarmid Park, Broadwood Stadium and Excelsior Stadium.
On three occasions has a team reached the final of the competition in successive seasons. The first team to do so was Ayr United, reaching the final twice in the first two years of the competition (1990 and 1991). Hamilton Academical did the same not long after (1991, 1992) and Airdrieonians (2000, 2001). Hamilton Academical and Airdrieonians remain the only two teams to have successfully defended their titles. However on some occasions the eventual winner of the Scottish Challenge Cup has been unable to defend their title due to also winning the Scottish First Division in the same season and being promoted to the Scottish Premier League, teams of which are ineligible to compete in the tournament. This has happened to Falkirk (1993, 2004), Inverness Caledonian Thistle (2003) and St. Mirren (2005).
Since the beginning of the tournament in 1990, only three teams have won the competition from outside the top level of the Scottish Football League. Stenhousemuir became the first team to do so in 1995 followed by Stranraer a year later in 1996. The last club to win from outside the Scottish First Division was Alloa Athletic in 1999. All winners and runners-up from outside the top league have been from the Scottish Second Division. Never has a team from the Scottish Third Division reached the final of the tournament.
|*||Match decided in extra time|
|†||Match decided by a penalty shootout after extra time|
|Italics||Team from outside the top level of the Scottish Football League|
|1990–91||Dundee||3 – 2 *||Ayr United||Fir Park, Motherwell||11,503|
|1991–92||Hamilton Academical||1 – 0||Ayr United||Fir Park, Motherwell||9,663|
|1992–93||Hamilton Academical||3 – 2||Morton||Love Street, Paisley||7,391|
|1993–94||Falkirk||3 – 0||St. Mirren||Fir Park, Motherwell||13,763|
|1994–95||Airdrieonians||3 – 2 *||Dundee||McDiarmid Park, Perth||8,844|
|1995–96||Stenhousemuir||0 – 0 †||Dundee United||McDiarmid Park, Perth||7,856|
|1996–97||Stranraer||1 – 0||St. Johnstone||Broadwood Stadium, Cumbernauld||5,222|
|1997–98||Falkirk||1 – 0||Queen of the South||Fir Park, Motherwell||9,735|
|1998–99||Competition suspended due to lack of sponsorship|
|1999–2000||Alloa Athletic||4 – 4 †||Inverness Caledonian Thistle||Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie||4,043|
|2000–01||Airdrieonians||2 – 2 †||Livingston||Broadwood Stadium, Cumbernauld||5,623|
|2001–02||Airdrieonians||2 – 1||Alloa Athletic||Broadwood Stadium, Cumbernauld||4,548|
|2002–03||Queen of the South||2 – 0||Brechin City||Broadwood Stadium, Cumbernauld||6,428|
|2003–04||Inverness Caledonian Thistle||2 – 0||Airdrie United||McDiarmid Park, Perth||5,428|
|2004–05||Falkirk||2 – 1||Ross County||McDiarmid Park, Perth||7,471|
|2005–06||St. Mirren||2 – 1||Hamilton Academical||Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie||9,613|
|2006–07||Ross County||1 – 1 †||Clyde||McDiarmid Park, Perth||4,062|
|2007–08||St. Johnstone||3 – 2||Dunfermline Athletic||Dens Park, Dundee||6,446|
|2008–09||Airdrie United||2 – 2 †||Ross County||McDiarmid Park, Perth||4,091|
|2009–10||Dundee||3 – 2||Inverness Caledonian Thistle||McDiarmid Park, Perth||8,031|
|2010–11||Ross County||2 – 0||Queen of the South||McDiarmid Park, Perth||5,124|
|2011–12||Falkirk||1 – 0||Hamilton Academical||Almondvale Stadium, Livingston||5,210|
|Club||Wins||Last final won||Runners-up||Last final lost|
|Inverness Caledonian Thistle||1||2003||2||2009|
|Queen of the South||1||2002||2||2010|
The Scottish Challenge Cup has been known by different names due to sponsorship:
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