ATHLETIC and Kelty Hearts will miss out on competitive games against cross-border opposition next season after a revamp to a national tournament was announced.

Both clubs will participate in the SPFL Trust Trophy in the 2024/25 campaign but the chance to face opposition from outwith Scotland has been ended amidst concerns over fixture congestion.

SPFL supremo, Neil Doncaster, has revealed that the tournament will revert to being "Scottish-only", and that record-breaking prize money will be on offer.

In 2016, the top two teams from Northern Ireland and Wales were invited to participate, joining Scottish Premiership 'B' teams, and clubs from the Highland and Lowland leagues.

For the following season, the top two teams not to qualify for Europe from the League of Ireland were invited, before the two highest ranked teams still remaining in England's National League took part in 2018/19.

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The Pars were drawn away to one of those, Boreham Wood, winning on penalties after a scoreless draw, whilst Kelty Hearts hosted Solihull Moors the following season, losing a shoot-out after a 1-1 draw.

Dunfermline Press: Michael Tidser's Kelty Hearts will join the competition in round three, alongside the Pars.Michael Tidser's Kelty Hearts will join the competition in round three, alongside the Pars. (Image: David Wardle.)

The competition wasn't held in 2020/21 due to COVID-19, whilst the 2021/22 edition was contested solely by Scottish clubs, before Welsh and Northern Irish teams returned in 2022/23 and last season.

However, for the upcoming campaign - which will see the tournament winners picking up £100,000 - there will be changes with Doncaster explaining: "We have very much enjoyed the participation of cross-border teams, who have competed in six seasons of this competition since they first joined in season 2016/17.

"However, their involvement does further complicate our already congested fixture schedule. Hence the SPFL Trust Trophy will revert to a Scottish-only competition next season.

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"We are delighted to welcome five Highland League clubs and six Lowland League clubs into the SPFL Trust Trophy next season."

A total of £790,000 in prize money will be up for grabs, whilst each club, whether at home or away, who participates in a tie televised live on BBC Alba will receive a 'facility fee payment' of £1,500.

Doncaster added: "We're really pleased to announce record prize money for the SPFL Trust Trophy next season.

"The SPFL Trust have been fantastic supporters of this important cup competition. Their investment, and the continuing generosity of James and Morag Anderson, is greatly appreciated."

Dunfermline and Kelty will enter the tournament at the third round stage, to be held over the weekend of September 7-8, when those who finished first to third in League Two, first to 10th in League One, and second to 10th in the Championship, alongside relegated Premiership outfit Livingston, will join.

Eleven Premiership 'B' teams, as well as six Lowland League clubs, including Cowdenbeath, and five from the Highland League will also compete from the first round, which takes place at the end of July.