PERHAPS the penny has finally dropped when it comes to those persistent calls for the SFA and the SPFL to work together more closely. Because if it wasn’t for Andrew Dallas awarding four penalties to Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday, far more attention would have been focused on the farcical events which were underway this weekend in Dublin surrounding East Fife, Bohemians and the increasingly chaotic Irn Bru Cup. A good day to bury bad news you might call it. Or cremate a once-proud cup competition.

Call it what you want – it has been variously known as the B&Q Centenary Cup, the B&Q Cup, the Scottish League Challenge Cup, the Bell’s Challenge Cup, the Bell’s Cup, the Alba Challenge Cup, the Ramsdens Cup, the Petrofac Cup – but over 28 years, Scotland’s third cup competition has been something worth winning.

Originally conceived as a chance for Scotland’s often-overlooked lower division league clubs and their respective communities to battle it out from silverware of their own, a crowd of 48,133 saw Rangers finally claim the title against Peterhead at Hampden in 2016 in their fourth year of trying. The best part of 20,000 crammed into Easter Road to watch Raith Rovers take the title at the Ibrox side’s expense two years earlier, with crowds touching 10,000 commonplace for finals including the 1999 epic between Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Alloa Athletic, which was settled on penalties after a 4-4 draw.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for innovation. For all its complications, the Uefa Nations League improves upon the dreaded international friendly and brings some additional value to the party. Likewise with VAR - the world is turning and football needs to keep pace.

The persistent tinkering of the Challenge Cup, though, is something else entirely. It has become a convenient catch-all or repository for every new idea doing the rounds amongst the game’s administrators.

Want to introduce colt teams to help bring on young players at the bigger clubs but don’t want to rock the boat with the smaller sides? Why not stick them in the Challenge Cup. Want to broaden the competition to teams from Ireland, Wales and England to serve as a precedent for cross-border competition? Let’s shoe-horn them into the Challenge Cup.

Throw in a little bit the hardly unheard-of contingency of a little bit of early February snow, and you have the chaotic scenes we witnessed over in the Emerald Isle this weekend. Here is a brief recap of how East Fife have booked their place in the semi-finals: having creditably worked their way past Fife rivals Cowdenbeath, Partick Thistle and Queen of the South, they landed an away quarter final tie against Dublin outfit Bohemian.

While the rest of the last eight ties took place in November, there was one small problem: the League of Ireland operates a summer season, so November – when their players had just knocked off after the climax of their campaign – was hardly ideal.

With the match duly re-scheduled for last weekend, Fife fans booked up for the Emerald Isle and gleefully awaited seeing their team in action on foreign shores. I’m sure the craic was still mighty, but the pitch at Dalymount Park refused to play ball. Despite being given every chance, the playing surface was deemed to be frozen and unplayable just seven minutes before kick-off.

After extensive crisis talks about rearranging the game for a third time between the clubs, the SPFL and the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) Bohemians took the decision to withdraw from the tournament instead, giving Darren Young’s side a bye into the last four.

While cheery statements went out from all sides, including one from SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster saying how he was already looking forward to welcoming our Irish friends next season, Scottish football needs to learn its lessons from this sorry saga.. They need to take the hint, as it appears they have created a competition that even invited participants themselves don’t seem too bothered about winning. Over the 28 years of its being, the Challenge Cup has been re-invented many times, but it needs the kiss of life more than ever this morning.