Football has thrown up a lot of 'what the fuck?' moments in recent times and this certainly adds to it. Today it was announced by FAI Director of Competitions Fran Gavin that Sligo Rovers and Bray Wanderers will compete in next season's aptly sponsored Irn Bru Scottish Challenge Cup.
The two teams who finished fifth and sixth respectively in the Airtricity Premier Division last season will compete in the illustrious competition following an invitation from the Scottish FA.
As a result both Sligo and Bray Wanderers will be joined by the under-20's of the Scottish Premiership clubs, the remaining teams in the Scottish league setup, and two teams from both Wales and Northern Ireland. The first round of the tournament will commence in August, while the League of Ireland sides are not expected to feature until late September/early October.
One really has to wonder what is to be gained by either Sligo or Bray playing against underage and lower league clubs for the most part. Especially given the fact that they will be competing as the League of Ireland season begins to draw to a close. If either club is in the running for Europe or in the midst of a relegation battle, the Scottish Challenge Cup will only serve as a unnecessary distraction.
However, it does present the opportunity to play in Hampden Park the following March - which, of course, means that the final will take place at the beginning of the 2018 League of Ireland season.
Here's the Challenge Cup outside my local Asda. That's your level. pic.twitter.com/w6p7q4zdM2
— Eamonn Donohoe (@EamonnDonohoe) February 14, 2017
Rangers were the last side to have lifted the much coveted trophy but would have no place in this seasons edition due to being deemed too successful to enter. The semi finals are due to take place this weekend as Queen of the South, Dundee United, St Mirren and TNS of Wales participate for a chance to play in the famous Glaswegian stadium.
It was also announced that 28 live games will be shown via RTÉ 2 and eir Sport throughout the season. The first round of televised fixtures can be found here.