The Scottish FA has put forward proposals for a major revamp of this season’s Scottish Cup, STV can reveal.
Clubs are being consulted on plans that would see a maximum of 52 entrants – less than half of those currently eligible – competing over seven rounds from Boxing Day.
Under the present format, 112 clubs can compete – including all 42 SPFL sides, all Highland and Lowland League teams, clubs from the East, South and West of Scotland leagues and invited members.
Including preliminary rounds, there are usually a total of ten stages that run from August to May.
However, the coronavirus pandemic has put severe pressure on the fixture calendar, forcing the Scottish Football Association into a drastic rethink of how to stage the historic competition.
The preferred option would see 42 SPFL clubs being joined by ten other clubs who are capable of fulfilling their fixtures.
If more than ten clubs are able to take part, lots will be drawn to decide who goes into the competition.
While the Premiership is scheduled to get under way on August 1, the Championship, League One and League Two won’t return to competitive action until October.
It’s not known when clubs in the fifth and sixth tiers will compete again.
Over the years, the Scottish Cup has become synonymous with shock results and fairytale stories.
Eighteen months ago, junior outfit Auchinleck Talbot earned a glamour tie against Hearts after defeating Championship side Ayr United. Last season, Lowland League side BSC Glasgow reached the fifth round, where they faced Hibs.
But this season some clubs may not get the opportunity to perform a giant-killing act.
How would the new-look Scottish Cup work?
Round One would take place on Boxing Day, just six days after the rescheduled season 2019/20 final. League Two clubs would compete at this stage.
League One clubs would enter in Round Two early in the new year, with all Championship and Premiership clubs joining the competition in Round Three at the end of January.
Any change to the competition would have to be agreed at a general meeting.
Clubs who are unable to compete or not selected to take part will receive a payment of £5000 from the governing body.
Other proposals being discussed include a 32-club competition with only Premiership, Championship and League One sides participating, or a 42-club tournament including League Two teams.
But STV understands the Scottish FA hierarchy favour a 52-club tournament.