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Should English Non-League Clubs Be Allowed In Scottish Irn Bru Cup?

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Should English non-League clubs be allowed to enter the Scottish Cup, known as the Irn Bru Cup?

Rory Fyfe Smith from Conwy, North Wales poses the question as to whether teams from the Evo-Stik Northern Premier and top sides from the Northern League should go into competition with Scottish Championship, League One and Two clubs.

Rory said: “My idea is for English non-League sides to ask to be invited into the Scottish Challenge Cup, also known as the Irn Bru Cup.

“The Scottish Challenge Cup is originally the cup played by Scottish League sides not in the Premier Division.

“But in recent years, two sides each from Wales (currently The New Saints and Connah`s Quay), Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (Bray Wanderers and Sligo Rovers) have been added. Plus, in addition some Highland League and Lowland League sides. And the under-20 teams of every Scottish Premier sides.

“I think allowing non-Scottish teams into the trophy enables teams from Scotland to test themselves against teams from outside the country and for their fans to see new stadiums, players, and clubs with different histories.

Allowing non-League teams from England would increase the number of opportunities for cross-border games, and increase the interesting journeys that Scottish clubs could to.

“I think the ideal would be to choose from the northern divisions of England, to put forward every team in their division into the trophy as an experiment.

“Imagine fun games like Durham City versus Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Esh Winning versus Falkirk or the crowd that could watch South Shields take on Dundee United at Mariners Park!

“I am not suggesting these games would fill 20,000 capacity grounds, or get £2 million TV rights, just that they would be good games to have.

“I think it would make more interesting match-ups.

“UEFA have allowed Welsh and Irish sides into the trophy so why not a selection of English non-League sides?

“I do not support England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland merging their leagues. I support us having our own leagues, but I do support more cross-border cups on top of the domestic games.

“The Welsh, Scottish and Irish would still enter teams in the Champions League and Europa League.

“Incidentally, I am not connected with any football association, or football club.”

The first argument against Rory`s idea would be clubs complaining about too many fixtures.

However, very few clubs in the Northern Premier`s lower divisions progress much further than the Second or Third Qualifying Rounds of the Buildbase FA Trophy, so from the middle of November onwards, cup matches are usually just their respective league cups or local county competitions when clubs usually field weakened teams anyway.

Is Rory`s idea worth thinking about? Get in touch through @PHNonLeague or on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/PitcheroNonLeague/) and let us know.

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About Author

Former Swansea City and Kettering Town defender who has been managing the likes of Kettering Town u18s, Rothwell Town, Desborough Town and Wellingborough Town for 33 years as well as being technical director at AFC Rushden & Diamonds. Began in non-League journalism as editor of Team Talk magazine back in the early 1990s and then as editor of Non-League Daily, joining Pitchero to set up Pitchero Non-League in January 2011. Also works for the National League.

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