Format

Betfred Cup Format 2016/17

Format
The group stage involves 40 clubs - the 38 SPFL teams not involved in European competition plus Cove Rangers (Highland League champions) and East Stirlingshire (Lowland League representative), drawn into eight groups of five. They were split into four North groups and four South groups. Each group contains one seeded club, one second seed and three unseeded clubs.

Group matches
Clubs are awarded the usual three points for a win but all drawn games in the group stage go straight to penalties - the shoot-out winners receive a bonus point. ie three points for a win, two points for a shoot-out win and one point for losing on penalties.

If clubs are level on points at the end of the group stage the criteria for separating them is 1) goal difference, 2) goals scored, 3) away goals scored, 4) matches won, 5) away matches won, 6) drawing of lots.

Knock-out rounds
The eight group winners and four best runners-up progress to the second round, where they are joined by the four clubs competing in Europe - Celtic, Aberdeen, Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian.

The seeded teams in the last 16 are the four European clubs and the four group winners with the highest points totals.

The tournament reverts to a traditional knock-out format from the second round onwards, with ties decided by extra time and penalties if the scores are level after 90 minutes.