The group stage involves 40 clubs - the 38 SPFL clubs not involved in European competition plus Brora Rangers (Highland League champions) and Kelty Hearts (Lowland League champions). Teams are drawn into eight groups of five - split into four north groups and four south groups. Each group contains one seeded club, one second seed and three unseeded clubs.
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.
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, Rangers, Motherwell and Aberdeen.
The seeded teams in the last 16 are the four European clubs and the four group winners with the best records.
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.
Betfred Cup 2020/21 dates
Group stage MD1 – Tuesday October 6
Group stage MD2 – Saturday October 10
Group stage MD3 – Tuesday October 13
Group stage MD4 – Tuesday November 10
Group stage MD5 – Saturday November 14
Second round – Weekend of November 28/29
Quarter-finals – Midweek of December 15-17
Semi-finals – Weekend of January 23/24
Final – Sunday February 28