Crusaders and Linfield have been lined up to play in next season’s revamped Scottish Challenge Cup.
The competition is being expanded and will include the addition of two teams from the Northern Ireland Football League.
There will also be representatives from the Highland and Lowland Leagues, all Ladbrokes Premiership U20 teams and two representatives from the Welsh Premier League.
They will join the 30 Ladbrokes Championship, League 1 and League 2 teams to give an overall total of 54 competing in the exciting new competition format across seven rounds, with the majority of fixtures taking place during international weekend breaks.
In addition to the continued support from long-standing competition broadcaster BBC ALBA, the SPFL has also secured new broadcast deals with S4C in Wales and Premier Sports in Northern Ireland to cover selected fixtures live during next year’s Scottish Challenge Cup.
The competition’s new format was devised and approved by the SPFL Board and UEFA following recommendations made by the SPFL Competitions Working Group, which comprises representatives of member clubs across the leagues.
Andrew Johnston, Northern Ireland Football League Managing Director, said: “The NI Football League is delighted that two of our member clubs will participate in this competition next season and I have no doubt that it will prove to be a success both on and off the pitch. It will provide a different kind of challenge for all clubs, and is a great opportunity to showcase the product on offer in the NIFL to a wider audience.”
The two NIFL representatives will be included in Round 4 of next season’s competition, to be played in October.
Draws will be regionalised throughout the competition, and seeded from Rounds 1-3 only.