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.[4][7] The trophy 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.[8]


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]

Entry criteria[edit]

All clubs that are full members of the Scottish Football Association (SFA) qualify automatically for the Scottish Cup. In addition to this, the league winners of the East of Scotland and South of Scotland Leagues, both of which contain some clubs that are not full members of the SFA, are given a place in the draw. In principle, a non-member club may also qualify by winning the Lowland League or being either winners or runners-up of the Highland League, though in practice all clubs which would have qualified by this route have been SFA members and thus eligible to enter in any case. Before 2007, only four non-league teams advanced from each of the Scottish Qualifying Cup (North) and (South) competitions.[9] The Qualifying Cup competitions were scrapped in 2007 and the 36 SFA member clubs outwith the professional leagues were given direct entry to the Scottish Cup.

Clubs from Scottish Junior football (most of whom are not members of the SFA as they belong to the Scottish Junior FA) were admitted for the first time in the 2007–08 competition. A small number of junior and amateur clubs are SFA members in their own right (as of 2015, there are five such clubs: Girvan, Glasgow University, Banks O'Dee, Linlithgow Rose and Golspie Sutherland) and therefore automatically qualify. Up to four additional Junior clubs are also allowed to enter, these being the champions of the previous season's Scottish Junior Football North Premier League, the Scottish Junior Football West Premier League, the Scottish Junior Football East Region Super League, and the winner of the Scottish Junior Cup if they have not also won one of the three top regional league titles.[10]

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.[11] 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.[11] Scottish League One and six Scottish Championship clubs started in the third round,[11] while the remaining four Championship clubs and all 12 Scottish Premiership clubs entered in the fourth round.[11]


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.[12] 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.[12][13]

European qualification[edit]

As with all domestic cup competitions in UEFA countries, the winners of the Scottish Cup qualify for the following season's UEFA Europa League (previously the UEFA Cup). In the past, if the winners had already qualified for the UEFA Champions League or the UEFA Europa League via their league position, the cup runners-up were awarded the Europa League place. This has been quite a regular occurrence in Scotland, with either Rangers or Celtic often winning 'The Double', while Aberdeen also achieved that feat in 1984.

In 2006, Heart of Midlothian had already qualified for the UEFA Champions League by finishing second in the SPL, and then won the 2006 Scottish Cup Final. Therefore, the Scottish Cup place in Europe passed to Gretna, the beaten finalists. In 2008, the SFA announced that in such a situation the place would in future be awarded to the highest-placed club in the SPL who had not otherwise qualified for Europe. This followed some disappointing performances by middle-ranking Scottish teams including Gretna, Dunfermline Athletic and Queen of the South. All those clubs were knocked out at the first hurdle of the UEFA Cup which reduced the nation's coefficient, the calculation used to determine the number of places allocated in UEFA tournaments. UEFA blocked the proposed change, however, insisting that a club from the cup competition should represent Scotland. Falkirk therefore qualified for the 2009-10 UEFA Europa League as runners-up of the 2009 Scottish Cup Final to league champions Rangers. Falkirk then lost in their opening European tie to FC Vaduz of Liechtenstein. In 2010, as Dundee United had qualified for the Europa League through both winning the Scottish Cup and finishing in third place in the SPL, the Europa League place passed to Motherwell, who finished fifth in the league.

Beginning with the 2015–16 UEFA Europa League, should the domestic cup winners already qualify for the Champions League or Europa League via their domestic league position, the cup runners-up will no longer be granted a spot in the Europa League, and the spot will be given to the highest-placed team in the league which has not yet qualified for European competitions.[14]

"Giant killers"[edit]

Because it involves clubs of all standards playing against each other, there is the possibility for "minnows" from the lower or junior divisions to become "giant-killers" by eliminating top clubs from the tournament. Some famous cup shocks include 1938, when Second Division East Fife were the victors in the final against Kilmarnock and thus won the cup.

On 31 January 1959, Highland League outfit Fraserburgh won 1–0 against a Dundee side which had seven Scottish internationals in their side. In 1967, Berwick Rangers defeated Rangers 1–0, with Sammy Reid scoring the only goal of the match.

In 2000, Inverness Caledonian Thistle defeated Celtic 3–1.[15] Caley would also record another victory at home to Martin O'Neill's Celtic side in 2003. The former victory prompted the newspaper headline "Super Caley Go Ballistic Celtic Are Atrocious".[15]

Celtic, with a debutante Roy Keane in tow, also fell victim to Clyde, a side whose average age was 21, when they were beaten 2–1 at Broadwood Stadium in January 2006. On 10 April 2010, First Division club Ross County beat Celtic 2-0 to reach the final for the first time in their history.

In the 2013–14 fourth round ties, League Two (fourth tier) Albion Rovers defeated Premiership club Motherwell.[16] The victory was also Albion's first win over Motherwell in 34 attempts (outwith the Lanarkshire Cup).[16]

Performance 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.[17] Celtic has also finished runners-up on more occasions than any other club with 18 defeats in the final.[17] The most recent winner is St. Johnstone, who defeated Dundee United in the 2014 final.[17]

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

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.[18]

Free/Pay TV Broadcaster [18] Live Matches [18] Replays [18] Highlights [18]
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.


The tournament has been sponsored by a number of institutions in recent years, which have also lent their name to the competition. These sponsors have included:

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 are an additional sponsor from 2010 to 2014, but they do not have naming rights for the trophy.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i 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 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. ^ Oldest Association football trophy, Guinness World Records. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  8. ^ Scottish Cup final: St Johnstone 2-0 Dundee United, BBC Sport. 17 May 2014. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  9. ^ Scottish Football Association The Scottish Cup 2007/08
  10. ^ Junior clubs enter Scottish Cup
  11. ^ a b c d "William Hill Scottish Cup Competition 2013-14" (PDF). Scottish Football Association. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  12. ^ a b Celtic Park and Ibrox announced as Scottish Cup venues, Scottish Football Association. 30 October 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  13. ^ SFA defends early decision on Scottish Cup venues, The Scotsman. 31 October 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  14. ^ "Strategic talks in Dubrovnik". 20 September 2013. 
  15. ^ a b "Super Caley dream realistic?". BBC Sport. BBC. 22 March 2003. Retrieved 2 September 2013. 
  16. ^ a b "Albion Rovers 1–0 Motherwell". BBC Sport. BBC. 30 November 2013. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  17. ^ a b c Scottish FA Cup Honours, Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  18. ^ a b c d e BBC Sport | Scotland | TV rights boost for Scottish FA
  19. ^ "Smith admits Scottish Cup subsidy". BBC Sport. 4 September 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2008. 
  20. ^ "Homecoming Scottish Cup Unveiled". BBC Sport. 14 October 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2008. 
  21. ^ "Scottish Cup given new branding". BBC Sport. 21 September 2009. Retrieved 21 September 2009. 
  22. ^ a b "Scottish Cup in £3m sponsor deal with William Hill". BBC Sport (BBC). 25 August 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  23. ^ "Cup News: Scottish Football Association: The Scottish FA". Scottish FA. 25 August 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  24. ^ "Scottish FA secures four-year Carling sponsorship deal". BBC Sport. 21 July 2010. Retrieved 21 July 2010. 

External links[edit]