Should the Carabao Cup be Scrapped?

Should the Carabao Cup be Scrapped?

Last update: 2 January 2021 Tags: Bradford City, Arsenal, Leicester City, Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, EFL Cup, League Cup, Carabao Cup, COVID-19. Categories: League Cup.

The Carling Cup. The Capital One Cup. And now… the Carabao Cup.

English football’s secondary domestic cup competition has gone through so many name changes in the past decade that its relevance appears to have waned somewhat. With a growing number of fans unable to even identify the competition, its place in the footballing calendar has once again been called into question.

The Premier League’s top managers have become increasingly frustrated by fixture congestion in recent times, with Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp two particularly high-profile critics of the EFL Cup. Their case is simple; playing too many high-intensity games will lead to player injuries becoming all too frequent, which will in turn have a damaging effect on the competitiveness of the English game.

Now seems more apt a time than ever before for this to be discussed by England’s footballing authorities. With COVID-19 measures being introduced in some competitions in the form of allowing extra substitutions to take place during a match, as well as additional reserves to be named on each team’s bench, concerns over player absences are at an all-time high. If a change is ever to come, now is the time to do it.

Most arguments for scrapping the tournament in its entirety tend to stem from similar competitions simply not existing in Europe’s other top leagues. However, the English footballing pyramid is significantly larger than its European counterparts, with 72 clubs outside the Premier League also participating in the League Cup; they too deserve to be taken into consideration if a decision is to be made.

These smaller clubs rely on the League Cup to generate income through ticket sales and other hospitality purchases. Cancelling the competition would wipe out this revenue stream for them altogether; seemingly a cruel notion at a time when smaller teams are suffering financially more than ever before.

Furthermore, if you follow your local side, the prospect of being drawn against one of the top division’s biggest teams is one to salivate over. Huge cup upsets have become part and parcel of English football’s DNA. Bradford City’s penalty victory over Arsenal in 2012 en route to the final is one that will go down in English footballing folklore and one that will live on in the memories of fans of the Bantams for generations to come. Removing the EFL Cup from the footballing calendar would significantly reduce the chances of these miraculous moments continuing to occur in the future.

Other notions put forward, such as that the EFL Cup damages the chances of England’s top teams succeeding on the European stage, seem to have little merit as well. With 2 of the last 4 winners and 4 of the last 8 finalists of UEFA’s elite competitions having been English clubs, it seems hard to make a case for the EFL Cup being a significant barrier to European success.

Lastly, there is a case to be made that the fixture congestion caused by the EFL Cup is one of the reasons why the Premier League is one of, if not the most competitive top division in the world. England’s most successful clubs have had to use load management when balancing their midweek European games and domestic cup ties with their weekend fixtures in the league. Perhaps without this juggling act, we would see the same teams competing at the top of the table year in, year out. Would Leicester City’s famous title triumph of 2015-16 have happened if the so-called bigger sides had fewer games to play?

The concept of fewer games taking place means those that remain will be of higher quality is a logical one. However, games of higher quality are not necessarily more competitive. Furthermore, if the recent COVID-19 lockdown has taught us anything, it is that die-hard football fans will clamour for football games of any quality at a time where there are none.

By that logic, the more games, the better.


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