Scottish Cup

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Scottish Cup
 The Scottish Cup trophy; a silver trophy on a wooden plinth with engraved plaques. A footballer figurine with a ball is on top
Founded 1873; 142 years ago (1873)
Region Scotland
Number of teams 90 (2014–15)
Current champions St. Johnstone
(1st title)
Most successful club(s) Celtic
(36 titles)
2014–15 Scottish Cup

The Scottish Football Association Challenge Cup,[1] commonly known as the Scottish Cup,[2][3] is an annual association football knock-out cup competition for men's football clubs in Scotland.[1] The competition was first held in 1873–74. Entry is open to all clubs with full or associate membership of the Scottish Football Association (SFA).[4] The competition is called the William Hill Scottish Cup for sponsorship reasons.[5][6]

The trophy that is presented to the winner of the competition is the oldest in association football and is also the oldest national trophy in the world. It was first presented to Queen's Park, who won the final match of the inaugural tournament in March 1874.[4] The current holder is St. Johnstone, who won the tournament for the first time by defeating Dundee United 2–0 in the 2014 final.[7]


The competition is a knock-out tournament.[1] In each round of games the teams are paired at random, with the first team drawn listed as the home team. Every game lasts 90 minutes plus any additional stoppage time.[1] The winner of each game advances to the next round, whilst the loser is eliminated from the tournament. In all games before the semi-final round; if a game ends in a draw, the fixture is replayed at the home ground of the other team at a later date.[1]

A football player scores a goal against the opposing goalkeeper from a penalty-kick. Stewards and camera-operators are visible behind the goal net.
The 2006 final between Heart of Midlothian and Gretna was decided by a penalty shoot-out.

If the replay also ends in a draw, 30 minutes of extra time is played followed by a penalty shoot-out if there is still no clear winner. In the semi-final and final rounds, if the game ends in a draw there is no replay; the winner is decided either in extra time or by a penalty shoot-out.[1]

The competition has a staggered entry system. In the 2013–14 season, 36 clubs entered from the first round; sixteen from the Highland League, three qualifying Junior clubs and seventeen other clubs affiliated with the Scottish Football Association.[8] Scottish League Two clubs entered in the second round along with the top two clubs from the previous season's Highland League and the winners of both the South of Scotland League and the East of Scotland League.[8] Scottish League One and six Scottish Championship clubs started in the third round,[8] while the remaining four Championship clubs and all 12 Scottish Premiership clubs entered in the fourth round.[8]

Eligible clubs[edit]

Any club that is a full or associate member of the Scottish Football Association (SFA) is entitled to compete in the tournament and qualifies automatically.[1] Every team that plays in the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) is therefore eligible. Between 1895 and 2007, clubs that were SFA members but not competitors in the country's professional football leagues could only qualify for the tournament by winning the Scottish Qualifying Cup.[9] Clubs that are not members of the SFA may still qualify for the tournament by winning the Highland League, Lowland League, East or South of Scotland football leagues. Clubs that are members of the Scottish Junior Football Association (SJFA) have been able to qualify since 2007 by winning one of the three regional Super League divisions or by winning the Scottish Junior Cup.[9] Three junior clubs, Banks O' Dee, Girvan and Linlithgow Rose are also SFA members and therefore qualify automatically.

European qualification[edit]

As Scotland is a member of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the winner of the Scottish Cup qualifies to compete in European-wide competitions organised by UEFA. Between 1960 and 1998, the Scottish Cup winners qualified for the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup along with winners of other domestic cup competitions across Europe before it was abolished.[10] The Scottish Cup winners now qualify to compete in the following season's UEFA Europa League (formerly known as the UEFA Cup).[11] It is possible for the Scottish Cup winners to have already qualified for a UEFA competition through their league ranking in the Scottish Premiership. In this scenario the qualification spot passes to the highest ranked team in that competition not yet qualified, rather than to the Scottish Cup runners-up.[12]


Before the semi-final and final rounds, the venue of each match is determined when the fixtures are drawn; the first club drawn in a fixture is named the home team and chooses the venue for the match, usually its own home ground.[1] In the event of a game ending in a draw, the venue for the replay is the home ground of the second club drawn.[1]

The interior of a football stadium.
The semi-final and final games are hosted at Hampden Park.

The semi-final ties are played at a neutral venue;[1] usually Hampden Park in Glasgow.[13] On occasions when Hampden has been unavailable, such as when it was being renovated in the late 1990s and when it was being transformed into an athletics stadium for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the semi-finals have been hosted at Celtic Park and Ibrox Stadium, also in Glasgow.[13][14]

Hampden Park also usually hosts the final match of the tournament.[1] The venue has hosted the majority of finals including the first in 1874. Other venues that have hosted the final in the tournament's early years are Hamilton Crescent, Kinning Park and Cathkin Park; all in Glasgow. The last game of the 1896 tournament is the only final that has been hosted outside Glasgow when rivals Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian played at Logie Green in Edinburgh.[15] Hampden Park has held world and European records for the highest attendance, some of which were recorded at Scottish Cup games. The 1937 final played between Aberdeen and Celtic attracted a crowd of 147,365 spectators[4][16] which was a world record for a national cup final and remains a European record.[4]


The Scottish Football Association was founded in 1873 and the Scottish Cup was created as an annual competition for its members.[17] The first Scottish Cup match took place on 18 October 1873 when Renton defeated Kilmarnock 2–0 in the first round.[18] In its early years the competition was dominated by Queen's Park who won the final 10 times in the first twenty years.[19] Vale of Leven, Dumbarton and Renton were also successful during this period.[4] In 1885, the record margin of victory in the tournament was recorded when Arbroath defeated Bon Accord 36–0 in a first round match.[4][19]


The trophy that is presented to the winner of the competition is the oldest in association football and is also the oldest national trophy in the world.[4][20][21] The original trophy is permanently kept inside Hampden Park.[21] A replica of the trophy is given to competition winners and is used for promotional purposes.[21]


By club[edit]

A total of 33 clubs have appeared in the final, of whom 24 have won the competition. The most successful club in terms of wins and appearances in the final is Celtic with 36 wins from 55.[22] Celtic has also finished runners-up on more occasions than any other club with 18 defeats in the final.[22] The most recent winner is St. Johnstone, who defeated Dundee United in the 2014 final.[22]

Performance by club
Club Wins Last final won Runners-up Last final lost Total final appearances
Celtic 36 2013 18 2002 55
Rangers 33 2009 17 1998 51
Queen's Park 10 1893 2 1900 12
Heart of Midlothian 8 2012 6 1996 14
Aberdeen 7 1990 8 2000 15
Kilmarnock 3 1997 5 1960 8
Vale of Leven 3 1879 4 1890 7
St. Mirren 3 1987 3 1962 6
Clyde 3 1958 3 1949 6
Hibernian 2 1902 11 2013 13
Dundee United 2 2010 8 2014 10
Motherwell 2 1991 5 2011 7
Third Lanark 2 1905 4 1936 6
Dunfermline Athletic 2 1968 3 2007 5
Renton 2 1888 3 1895 5
Falkirk 2 1957 2 2009 4
Dumbarton 1 1883 5 1897 6
Dundee 1 1910 4 2003 5
Airdrieonians (1878) 1 1924 3 1995 4
East Fife 1 1938 2 1950 3
Greenock Morton 1 1922 1 1948 2
Partick Thistle 1 1921 1 1930 2
St. Johnstone 1 2014 1
St Bernard's 1 1895 1
Hamilton Academical 2 1935 2
Ross County 1 2010 1
Queen of the South 1 2008 1
Gretna 1 2006 1
Albion Rovers 1 1920 1
Raith Rovers 1 1913 1
Cambuslang 1 1888 1
Thornliebank 1 1880 1
Clydesdale 1 1874 1

Cup "shocks"[edit]

A football match.
Second-tier club Airdrieonians played in the 1995 final against top-tier Celtic.

Some clubs have become renowned for eliminating higher ranked clubs from the tournament despite being underdogs. Division Two club East Fife won the tournament in 1938 by defeating Division One club Kilmarnock, the first team from outside the top-tier of league football to win the trophy. East Fife had previously reached the final in 1927 after eliminating three higher ranked clubs in the preceding rounds.[23] Only one other club from outside the top-tier of league football has won the competition; non-league Queen's Park defeated Celtic in the 1893 final.[note 1] Seven other clubs have reached the final whilst competing outside the top-tier of league football but were defeated in the final: Dumbarton, Kilmarnock, Airdrieonians, Falkirk, Gretna, Queen of the South and Ross County.

In the rounds before the final some notable shocks have occurred. In 1959, Dundee were eliminated by Highland League club Fraserburgh despite having Scotland international footballers in their squad.[24][25] A season later, Eyemouth United reached the quarter final stage of the tournament after defeating two higher league clubs.[26] In 1967, Berwick Rangers eliminated defending champions Rangers in the first round.[27] Other results regarded as shocks include Stenhousemuir's win against Aberdeen in 1995[24] and Albion Rovers' defeat of Motherwell in 2013.[28] Celtic's shock defeat by Inverness Caledonian Thistle in 2000 led to the famous[29] newspaper headline "Super Caley go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious".[29]

Media coverage[edit]

Scottish Cup matches are currently broadcast live by both BBC Sport Scotland in Scotland and Sky Sports across the rest of the United Kingdom and also into Ireland.[30]

Free/Pay TV Broadcaster [30] Live Matches [30] Replays [30] Highlights [30]
Pay Sky Sports Up to 9 Yes - first pick Yes
Free BBC Scotland At least 5; up to 8 Yes - second pick Yes

BBC Radio Scotland provide radio coverage including several full live commentaries with additional commentaries broadcast on Radio Scotland's local frequencies. Radio broadcasting rights are also held by BBC Radio nan Gàidheal and BBC Radio 5 Live also carry some games.

The Scottish FA sells overseas rights separately from their domestic contract. In Australia, the Scottish Cup is broadcast exclusively by Setanta Sports Australia. Premium Sports hold the rights for the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.

The Scottish Cup Final is one of several events reserved for live broadcast in Scotland terrestrial television under the Ofcom Code on Sports and Other Listed and Designated Events.


A hot air balloon shaped like the Scottish Cup trophy.
A hot air balloon showing sponsorship by William Hill.

The Scottish Cup has been sponsored several times since the first organisation backed the tournament in 1983. The sponsor has been able to determine the name of the competition.[31] There have been four sponsors since 1983 as well as several name changes within the duration of each sponsorship. The competition relies on revenue earned from these agreements although it ran without a title sponsor for over 100 years until the late 1980s.[32]

The Scottish Government in association with businessman Willie Haughey sponsored the Scottish Cup for the 2008–09 and 2009–10 seasons, with the 2009 competition being called The Homecoming Scottish Cup and the 2010 competition called The Active Nation Scottish Cup. Carling was an additional sponsor between 2010 to 2014 as the competition's official beer.[37]


  1. ^ The Scottish Football League was founded in 1890, seventeen years after the Scottish Cup, so all competitors between 1873 and 1890 were technically non-league.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Rules of the Scottish Football Association Challenge Cup, Scottish Football Association. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  2. ^ Scottish Cup, Scottish Football Association. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  3. ^ Football - Scottish Cup, BBC News. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Archives - The Cup, Scottish Football Association. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  5. ^ William Hill Becomes Title Sponsor Of The Scottish Cup, William Hill plc. 25 August 2011. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  6. ^ William Hill Extend Scottish Cup Sponsorship Until 2016, William Hill plc. 20 May 2013. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  7. ^ Scottish Cup final: St Johnstone 2-0 Dundee United, BBC Sport. 17 May 2014. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d "William Hill Scottish Cup Competition 2013-14" (PDF). Scottish Football Association. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Junior clubs enter Scottish Cup, BBC Sport. 1 June 2007. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  10. ^ UEFA Cup Winners' Cup - Competition format, UEFA. 13 July 2005. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  11. ^ Regulations for the UEFA Europa League 2015-18 Cycle, UEFA. 20 September 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  12. ^ Strategic talks in Dubrovnik, UEFA. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  13. ^ a b Celtic Park and Ibrox announced as Scottish Cup venues, Scottish Football Association. 30 October 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  14. ^ SFA defends early decision on Scottish Cup venues, The Scotsman. 31 October 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  15. ^ Logie Green: the final Edinburgh didn't want,, The Scotsman. 31 March 2006. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  16. ^ On this day – 17th April 1937, Scottish Football Museum. 17 April 2015. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  17. ^ Brief History of the Scottish FA, Scottish Football Association. Archived from the original on 1 July 2008. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  18. ^ The Scottish Cup - Then and Now, Scottish Football Association. Archived from the original on 27 June 2008. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  19. ^ a b Tennent’s Scottish Cup Previous Winners, Scottish Football Association. Archived from the original on 27 June 2008. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  20. ^ Oldest Association football trophy, Guinness World Records. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  21. ^ a b c "Replica Scottish Cup damaged in Inverness". BBC News. BBC. 22 May 2015. Retrieved 22 May 2015. 
  22. ^ a b c Scottish FA Cup Honours, Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  23. ^ Scottish Cup Shocks, London Hearts Supporters' Clubs. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
  24. ^ a b The 10 greatest shocks in the Scottish Cup, The Scotsman. 12 January 2008. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  25. ^ Dundee Football Club - History, Dundee F.C. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
  26. ^ Eyemouth United's celebrated Scottish Cup quarter final spot, The Berwickshire News. 10 March 2010. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
  27. ^ Great Scottish Cup Shocks, BBC Sport. 10 April 2010. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  28. ^ Albion Rovers 1-0 Motherwell, BBC Sport. 30 November 2013. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  29. ^ a b Super Caley dream realistic?, BBC Sport. 22 March 2003. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
  30. ^ a b c d e BBC Sport | Scotland | TV rights boost for Scottish FA
  31. ^ a b The end of a lovely relationship as Tennent's tie-up with SFA is canned, The Scotsman. 25 May 2010. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  32. ^ a b Cramb, Auslan. "Health row as Tennent's win the Cup ". The Herald. 29 July 1989.
  33. ^ "Smith admits Scottish Cup subsidy". BBC Sport. 4 September 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2008. 
  34. ^ "Homecoming Scottish Cup Unveiled". BBC Sport. 14 October 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2008. 
  35. ^ "Scottish Cup given new branding". BBC Sport. 21 September 2009. Retrieved 21 September 2009. 
  36. ^ "Cup News: Scottish Football Association: The Scottish FA". Scottish FA. 25 August 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  37. ^ "Scottish FA secures four-year Carling sponsorship deal". BBC Sport. 21 July 2010. Retrieved 21 July 2010. 

External links[edit]