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The Scottish Football Association Challenge Cup, commonly known as the Scottish Cup, and as the Active Nation Scottish Cup for sponsorship reasons, is the main national cup competition in Scottish football. It is a knockout cup competition run by and named after the Scottish Football Association.

The Scottish Cup awarded to the Scottish Cup winners is the oldest national trophy in the world.

The Scottish Cup was first held in 1873-74, with the first winners being Queen's Park. Because it involves clubs of all standards playing against each other, there is the possibility for "minnow" from the lower or junior divisions to become "giant-killers" by eliminating top clubs from the tournament. The current holders of the Scottish Cup are Rangers, who beat Falkirk 1-0 in the 2009 final on 30 May 2009.


The Scottish Cup began in the 1873–74 season, and was contested by 16 teams. The trophy was first awarded to Queen's Park when they beat Clydesdale 2–0 in the final in front of a crowd of 3,000 people. While the FA Cup is the oldest cup competition in the world, the trophy awarded to the Scottish Cup winners is the oldest national trophy, being minted in 1885.

The Scottish War Emergency Cup was a temporary competition held at the start of the World War II, due to the suspension of the Scottish Cup by the SFA. It was held between February and May in 1940, the competition involved all sixteen League clubs still operating, Cowdenbeath later withdrew which meant Dunfermline Athletic received a bye in the first round. Rangers beat Dundee United 1–0 in the Final.

Old Firm dominance

The Old Firm (Celtic and Rangers, both of Glasgowmarker) are the dominant force in Scottish football. They are the only two clubs to have won the Scottish Premier League since its inception in 1998, and their dominance also extends over the Scottish Cup, though to a lesser degree.

The 2006 final was played on 13 May 2006 at Hampden Parkmarker and was contested by Hearts and Gretna. This was the first final in nine years that an Old Firm side had not been involved in, and the first ever to feature a team from the third tier of the Scottish League system.

"Giant Killers"

The Scottish Cup produces occasional "giant-killings" where a team from a low division defeats a team from a higher division. Some famous cup shocks include 1938, when Second Division East Fife were the victors in the final against Kilmarnock and thus won the cup. Another instance was in 1967, when Berwick Rangers defeated Rangers 1–0. Sammy Reid scoring the only goal of the match. Also, Highland League outfit Fraserburgh's 1-0 win on 31 January 1959, against a Dundee side which had 7 Scottish Internationals in their side.

In 2000 First Division Inverness Caledonian Thistle beat Celtic 3–1 at Celtic Parkmarker. The Sun recorded it thus:

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 Stadiummarker in January 2006.


The competition format is that of a single elimination knockout. Teams are drawn against each other randomly. The team who is drawn first from each tie is the home team. If the first match finishes in a draw, a replay is played at the stadium of the second team drawn. In the replay, if the scores are still level at full time, extra time is played and (if necessary) penalties are used to decide the winner of the tie.

The semi-final matches are played at neutral stadiums, usually the national stadium Hampden Parkmarker. and the final itself is traditionally played at Hampden. Celtic Parkmarker staged the finals in 1993 and 1998 and Ibroxmarker staged the final in 1997 while Hampden was being redeveloped. The final and semi-final do not have replays and are played to a finish. Extra time is played and penalties are used if necessary. Two finals (1990 and 2006) have been decided by penalties.

Entry criteria

Previously clubs in the Third and Second Division qualified automatically for the first round, along with four non-league teams each from the Scottish Qualifying Cup (North) and (South) competitions. Clubs in the First Division and the Scottish Premier League had automatic byes to the third round. However, from the 2007–08 season a new criteria was introduced for entry into the Scottish Cup. The Scottish Qualifying Cup competitions were scrapped and the 36 SFA member clubs outwith the SPL and SFL were given direct entry to the 1st Round of the cup. Additionally, 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 and hence could not previously enter the Scottish Cup, were given a place in the draw.

Clubs from Scottish Junior football (all but one 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. Up to four Junior clubs are allowed to enter, these being the winners of the previous season's North Premier League, West Premier League and East Superleague, and the winner of the Scottish Junior Cup if they have not also won one of the three regional league titles. The first three Junior clubs to qualify for the tournament were Culter, Pollok and Linlithgow Rose. During Season 2008–09, Junior sides Bathgate Thistle, Pollok, Banks O' Dee and Lochee United will compete in the tournament.

European qualification

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). If the winners have already qualified for a higher-ranked tournament, either by winning the league (or in modern times, finishing second), the cup runners-up are awarded a place in Europe. 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 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. Therefore Falkirk qualified for the UEFA Europa League 2009-10, despite losing the 2009 Scottish Cup Final to league champions Rangers. Falkirk duly lost in their opening tie to FC Vaduz of Liechtenstein.


The cup holds the record for the biggest victory in World senior football, when on 12 September 1885 Arbroath beat Bon Accord 36–0.

The record attendance for a final is 147,365 in the 1937 final between Celtic and Aberdeen, a European record for domestic football. The first final to be decided on penalties was in 1990 when Aberdeen beat Celtic 9–8 on penalties after a 0–0 draw.

Hibernian have now played 337 games in the competition since they last won the Cup in 1902.

St Mirren in 1987 are the last team to win the cup with a team containing only Scottish players.

The current holders are Rangers.

Previous winners and finalists

Media coverage

Scottish Cup matches are currently broadcast live by both BBC Scotland and Sky Sports across Scotlandmarker, with Sky broadcasting exclusively to Englandmarker, Walesmarker, Northern Irelandmarker and the Republic of Irelandmarker. Sky Sports broadcast one live match per round from the third round onwards. BBC Scotland broadcast two live matches prior to the Final and show highlights of every game from the third round onward. Both live matches and highlights are shown on their Sportscene strand. Both BBC Scotland and Sky show the final live.

Radio broadcasting rights are currently held by BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio nan Gàidheal and BBC Radio 5 Live.

The Scottish FA sells overseas rights separately from their domestic contract. In Australia, the Scottish Cup is broadcast by Setanta Sports Australia.


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 sponsor 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.

See also


  1. SFA Handbook 2006-07 Cup Competition Rules
  2. Scottish Cup given new branding
  3. Official Site of the Tennent's Scottish Cup Scottish Football Museum Experience
  4. Scottish Football Association The Scottish Cup 2007/08
  5. Junior clubs enter Scottish Cup

External links

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