The SPFL have announced last season’s Challenge Cup final will not be held, with Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Raith Rovers being named as joint winners.
The competition was called to a halt after the outbreak of the pandemic last season, with hopes that a new date could be found once football restarted.
Though this season’s tournament was cancelled, a tight fixture schedule for league competition meant that the SPFL struggled to find a date for when the match could be played, and they have now decided to share the prize.
Chief executive of the SPFL Neil Doncaster said: “Sadly, the disruption caused by Covid-19 has meant that it has not been possible to stage the final of the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Cup 2019/20. We held off for as long as we could to give us the best chance of staging the final in front of meaningful numbers of fans this season – but it just wasn’t feasible.
“The SPFL Board has therefore declared Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Raith Rovers joint winners. On behalf of the SPFL, our sincere congratulations to both clubs, their players and coaching staff on becoming the first ever joint champions of the competition.
“We are looking forward to the Challenge Cup resuming next season, when it will be known as the SPFL Trust Trophy, supported by money donated by philanthropists including James Anderson. In the meantime, I would like to thank MG ALBA, Tunnock’s, and the Boards of both Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Raith Rovers for their flexible approach as well as for their patience and understanding in reaching this decision.”
Inverness Caledonian Thistle Chief Executive Scot Gardiner said: “The Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Cup of Season 2019/20 was certainly a rollercoaster of a competition, which for us culminated in the thrilling and controversial semi-final here at Caledonian Stadium v Rangers Colts.
“At the end of that tie, we were second in the Championship and Raith Rovers were, I believe, leading League 1. This season’s Challenge Cup was not even played. Since that game was played, there has been such a long time between then and now and while we were originally happy to try and play the final subject to fans being allowed in, both squads have changed so dramatically that we no longer believe, if the game was to be played, that it would be fair to either set of players who fought so hard to reach the 2019/20 final.
“We only have around five players left from that semi-final winning squad and we could even have the prospect of one of our players from that match being set to play against us. Subsequently, playing the rescheduled match from two seasons ago would mean that, unfortunately, cup sporting integrity would be long gone and accordingly, we feel that the best solution is to award both team squads from that season winners’ medals. For some of the players, they may not ever get the chance again to receive such a medal and we feel this is the fairest solution in unprecedented circumstances for all parties.”
Raith Rovers Chairman John Sim commented: “On behalf of everyone associated with Raith Rovers, I am delighted that we have been declared joint winners of the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Cup. Whilst we are obviously disappointed that our fans and management team have missed out on the excitement of a final and the opportunity to win the cup outright, we understand that the moment has passed and that we should all now look forward.”