Since 1999, only two teams outside of the Old Firm have won the Scottish Cup. Dundee United, two years ago, and Hearts, in 2006, are the only clubs who have managed to break the Glasgow monopoly so it’s no surprise that bookmakers aren’t looking outside the big two as the SPL clubs join the competition.
Holders Celtic have won the Scottish Cup four times in the last eight years and are 9/4 with Stan James and William Hill to retain their trophy. The Hoops started the season slowly but a 10-match winning run, combined with Rangers‘ loss of form, has propelled them to the top of the SPL and manager Neil Lennon will now be eyeing a double that seemed most unlikely just a few weeks ago when the Gers had a big lead in the title race. Given their history in the competition and current form it’s difficult to put anyone off backing Celtic, who have reached the final 19 times alongside their record 35 wins, though their arch-rivals can also be backed at the same 9/4 with the same two firms. Big hitters might consider backing both, which would give you combined odds of 5/8, as the Old Firm are a class above the other teams in Scotland, though it’s 10 years since Rangers and Celtic met in the final itself in Hampden.
Hearts are next best in most lists and are available at 12/1 with bet365 and William Hill. Paulo Sergio‘s team look to have a straightforward task against part-timers Auchinleck Talbot in the fourth round but the Edinburgh club’s financial woes may lead to several of their first-team squad departing before the end of the transfer window with their places being taken by members of the youth team. With potential disaster looming, there is surely better value elsewhere if looking for a team to challenge the domination of the Old Firm or profit from them being drawn against each other before the final. Of course, you will need luck in-running but how about a speculative each-way bet on Dundee United?
Outside of the top two, the Terrors (a general 14/1) have the best recent record in the competition and traditionally do better in the second of the season than the first. Admittedly, they’ve hardly set the SPL alight this term but always look as though they have a goal or two in them which is more than be said about the likes of Aberdeen (20/1 with bet365, Stan James and William Hill) or Hibernian (a general 25/1). Kilmarnock (a general 33/1) look to be on a downward curve and Motherwell (14/1 in most places) have also hit the buffers but Dunfermline Athletic have a proud recent record in the Scottish Cup having reached the final twice since the turn of the century. Jim McIntyre‘s side currently prop up the SPL but the cup may bring some relief from their woes and the Pars can be backed at 66/1 with Betfred, Coral and William Hill, which means you are getting 33/1 about them reaching the final again in the place part of an each-way bet. Providing they get through a tricky opener at Inverness CT and the draw is kind thereafter, those odds will start to look attractive.