ATHLETIC will face relegated Livingston whilst Kelty Hearts have landed a plum tie with Hibernian after the draw was made for the group stage of the Premier Sports Cup.

Eight groups of five teams were drawn for the first stage of next season's competition today (Wednesday), where both the Pars and the 'Maroon Machine' learned their opponents.

James McPake's Dunfermline, who were in the second pot of seeds, were drawn in Group E, where they will play Livi, who dropped down to the second tier after finishing bottom of the Premiership.

They will also face League One Cove Rangers, for the first time in a competitive match since a Scottish Cup tie in 1995 whilst they were a Highland League club, as well as The Spartans and Forfar Athletic of League Two.

The fixture against The Spartans, for whom ex-Pars midfielder, James Craigen, plays for, will be a first competitive meeting of the clubs.

League One Kelty Hearts, meanwhile, were in the third pot of seeded teams for the draw, and they were placed in Group C, where Hibernian and Queen's Park were already lying in wait.

Michael Tidser's men have never faced either the Easter Road club or the Spiders in a competitive match since winning promotion to the SPFL in 2021, and will also play League Two clubs Peterhead and Elgin City.

The New Central Park outfit are yet to progress from the group stage of the tournament, whilst Dunfermline last did so in the 2021/22 season, after which they were knocked out by Rangers at Ibrox.

The draw involved all SPFL clubs except those who will compete in the European competition - Celtic, Rangers, Heart of Midlothian, Kilmarnock and St Mirren - as well as Highland League champions Buckie Thistle, runners-up Brechin City and Lowland League winners East Kilbride.

The eight group winners and three best runners-up will progress to the last 16, joining the five European entrants, and the group stage begins over the weekend of July 13-14.

The rest of the matches will be played on July 16-17, July 20-21, July 23-24, and July 27-28.

The full draw is:

Group A: Aberdeen, Airdrieonians, Queen of the South, Dumbarton, East Kilbride.

Group B: Dundee United, Ayr United, Falkirk, Stenhousemuir, Buckie Thistle.

Group C: Hibernian, Queen's Park, Kelty Hearts, Peterhead, Elgin City.

Group D: Dundee, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Arbroath, Annan Athletic, Bonnyrigg Rose.

Group E: Livingston, Dunfermline, Cove Rangers, The Spartans, Forfar Athletic.

Group F: St Johnstone, Greenock Morton, Alloa Athletic, East Fife, Brechin City.

Group G: Motherwell, Partick Thistle, Montrose, Edinburgh City, Clyde.

Group H: Ross County, Raith Rovers, Hamilton Academical, Stirling Albion, Stranraer.