Sutton United have accepted an invitation to compete in Scotland's IRN-BRU Cup  next season.

The Scottish Professional Football League today announced a further expansion of the competition with the introduction of two English Vanarama National League representatives next season - Sutton and Boreham Wood - the highest-ranked sides from last season still competing in the division. 

The announcement comes after a successful change of format was introduced for the 2016/17 season where teams from Northern Ireland and Wales, the Highland and Lowland Leagues and all Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership under-20 Colt teams took part with teams from the League of Ireland joining last season.

Now, following UEFA approval, the U's and Boreham Wood will join the Irish (Bohemians and Bray Wanderers), Northern Irish (Crusaders and Coleraine) and Welsh (The New Saints and Connah’s Quay Nomads) representatives at the second-round stage of the competition.

SPFL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster said: “The IRN-BRU Cup remains an innovative and evolving competition, and we are pleased to now extend a warm welcome to the National League and their representatives, Sutton United and Boreham Wood. 

“We look forward to developing a positive relationship with our counterparts in England, just as we have with representatives from the leagues of Northern Ireland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland over the last two years.”

Sutton chairman Bruce Elliott was pleased to take up the invitation.

“We're delighted to have been asked to compete in the IRN-BRU Cup," he said. 

"Both manager Paul Doswell and I are excited at taking part in a competition that is new for us, and gives us the chance to encounter new opposition and play against sides that we would not meet in our normal schedule. We are thoroughly looking forward to it.”

Doswell also expressed his delight at leading his side into unchartered territory.

”It’s a great honour for the club, and one that I am very excited about,"  the United boss told the club's website

"The games are played on Saturdays, so it will give us something different and I’m sure the players will be able to compete at the level and still have a good season in the National League.

"It will be interesting to have the possibility of visiting new grounds, and I’m sure it’s something that the supporters will be keen to get involved with as well."

The Scottish Challenge Cup was established for season 1990/91 to mark the Scottish Football League’s centenary and has been run every year since (with the exception of 1998/99).

The current holders of the IRN-BRU Cup are Inverness Caledonian Thistle, who beat Dumbarton 1-0 in this year’s final at McDiarmid Park. 

The first-round draw for the 2018/19 IRN-BRU Cup will take place on Tuesday, June 26.