The group stage involves 40 clubs - the 38 SPFL teams not involved in European competition plus Cove Rangers (Highland League champions) and Spartans (Lowland League champions), 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, Aberdeen, Rangers 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.
Betfred Cup 2018/19 dates
Group stage MD1 – Weekend of July 14/15
Group stage MD2 – Midweek of July 17/18
Group stage MD3 – Weekend of July 21/22
Group stage MD4 – Midweek of July 24/25
Group stage MD5 – Weekend of July 28/29
Second round – Weekend of August 18/19
Quarter-finals – Midweek of September 25/26//27
Semi-finals – Weekend of October 27/28
Final – Sunday December 2