Football League Cup


Football League Cup

infobox football tournament
name = Football League Cup
(Carling Cup)


caption = The Carling Cup Trophy
current = Football League Cup 2008–09
founded = 1961
number of teams = 92
current champions = Tottenham Hotspur
region = ENG
most successful club = Liverpool
(7 times)

The Football League Cup, commonly known as the League Cup, is an English football competition. Like the FA Cup, it is played on a knockout (single elimination) basis. Unlike the FA Cup where 731 teams entered in 2007–08 only 92 clubs can enter—the 20 clubs of the FA Premier League, and the 72 clubs of The Football League, which organises the competition. Unlike the FA Cup, the semi-finals are played over two legs. The winners qualify for the UEFA Cup, if they have not qualified for European competition in some other way. (If the winner qualifies for the Champions League, the UEFA Cup spot is given to the team that finishes highest in the FA Premier League that has not already qualified for a European competition.)

Since 1982, the League Cup has been named after its sponsor, giving it the following names:

* Milk Cup (1981–82 to 1985–86), sponsored by the Milk Marketing Board
* Littlewoods Challenge Cup (1986–87 to 1989–90), sponsored by Littlewoods
* Rumbelows Cup (1990–91 and 1991–92), sponsored by Rumbelows
* Coca-Cola Cup (1992–93 to 1997–98), sponsored by Coca-Cola
* Worthington Cup (1998–99 to 2002–03), sponsored by Worthington Draught bitter
* Carling Cup (2003–04 to present), sponsored by Carling

The League Cup is less prestigious than the FA Cup,fact|date=April 2008 which also involves all other league teams (the Football League Trophy does not include the top two divisions) [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?xml=/sport/2006/08/21/sfnval21.xml Vale leave the black old days behind them] ] . The League Cup is seen by some larger clubs as a lower priority than other competitions. Some clubs have made a point of fielding a weaker side in the competition, making the opportunity for so-called 'giant-killing' of the larger clubs more likely. Many of the top English sides, Manchester United and Arsenal in particular, have used the competition to give young players valuable big-game experience.

The women's game has its own League Cup, which is open to the 36 women's clubs in the three divisions of the FA Women's Premier League.

History

During the late 1950s, the majority of senior English clubs equipped their grounds with floodlights. This opened up the opportunity to exploit weekday evenings throughout the winter. The League Cup was introduced in the 1960–61 season specifically as a mid-week floodlit tournament. In the early years of the competition, many of the top teams declined to take part. It was only when automatic entry to the UEFA Cup was promised to the winners that the full League membership took part.

In the last 10 years, following restructuring of European football, and the introduction of the restructured format of the UEFA Champions League, the League Cup was threatened with losing its UEFA Cup slot for its winners. It has retained it thus far however, and along with France is the only nation to offer a UEFA cup slot to its second cup competition winners. Therefore it retains enough importance and popularity, especially with fans of clubs for whom the League Cup offers a realistic chance of qualifying for Europe.

Liverpool have won the cup on the most occasions, with seven victories including four successive trophies in the early 1980s. They have appeared ten times in the final overall, also a record. Thanks to winning the competition, Liverpool were able to complete two trebles of trophy wins, in 1984 and 2001. The present holders are Tottenham Hotspur who beat Chelsea by a scoreline of 2–1 after extra time.

Giant killings are less well remembered in the League Cup than the FA Cup due to the absence of non-league sides and the fact that many big clubs have fielded very under-strength sides when knocked out. However, there have been some notable upsets, such as Fourth Division side Chester knocking league champions Leeds United out 3–0 en route to the semi-finals in 1974–75. In 1995–96, a youthful Manchester United side were thrashed 3–0 at home by York City in the second round, first leg. Despite fielding a very strong side in the return game, United could only win 3–1 and went out 4–3 on aggregate. United have also been knocked out by Southend United and Coventry City in the last two seasons after fielding weakened sides. In 2001–02, holders Liverpool were defeated 2–1 at home by Grimsby Town. Liverpool had won the cup the previous season. Grimsby recorded another giant killing in 2005 by knocking out Tottenham Hotspur.

Format

Preliminary Round

This is only used when the number of teams in European competition affects the number of byes to the third round "and" it would not be easier to give a club a bye to the second round. The match(es) involve the eligible clubs who finished lowest in the English football league system last season (normally clubs promoted from Conference National). This has only been used once—2002–03. [ [http://www.soccer.mistral.co.uk/books/flctext.htm The Football League Cup ] ]

The ties are single matches, with extra time and a penalty shootout if necessary, with the winners progressing to the next round.

First round

All clubs playing in The Football League (the Football League Championship, Football League One and Football League Two), unless they are competing in the UEFA Champions League or the UEFA Cup, enter at this stage and join any Preliminary Round winners. Sometimes (depending on the number of clubs competing in Europe, whether or not they play in The Football League "and" whether a preliminary round would be an easier way to even up the numbers) it is necessary to give one or more clubs a bye to the second round. The clubs would be those eligible to compete in the First Round who finished highest in the English football league system last season (normally clubs relegated from the FA Premier League).

For this round, the clubs are divided in northern and southern sections (though not always equally, so there could be more clubs in one section than another and, strangely, some of the clubs in the northern section are actually located further south than some of the southern section clubs). Half of the clubs from each section are seeded and half are not. First a draw is made to determine whether the seeded club is to play at home or away, and then the club is drawn against an unseeded club from their section.

The ties are single matches, with extra time and a penalty shootout if necessary, with the winners progressing to the next round.

econd round

All clubs playing in the FA Premier League, unless they are competing in the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Cup (or took part in the UEFA Intertoto Cup), as well as any clubs that may have been given a bye to this round, enter at this stage and join the First Round winners.

The ties are single matches, with extra time and a penalty shootout if necessary, with the winners progressing to the next round.

Third round

All clubs competing in the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Cup enter at this stage and join the Second Round winners (making for a total of thirty-two clubs).

The ties are single matches, with extra time and a penalty shootout if necessary, with the winners progressing to the next round.

Fourth and fifth rounds

The winners of ties in the previous round play single matches, with extra time and a penalty shootout if necessary. The fifth rounds are also known as the quarter-finals.

emi-finals

The four quarter-final winners compete in this round.

The ties are played over two matches (one at each club's stadium) with the aggregate score being used to determine the winners. If the scores are level at the end of the second match extra time is played. If the scores are still level at the end of extra time the team which has scored more away goals goes through. If the number of away goals is level a penalty shootout is used to decide the winners.

Final

The two semi-final winners compete to win the cup.

The tie is a single match played at a neutral stadium (which was the Millennium Stadium between the seasons 2000–01 and 2006–07 but from 2008 onwards returned to Wembley Stadium), with extra time and a penalty shootout if necessary.

Media coverage

Carling Cup matches are currently shown live on Sky Sports and highlights are shown on ITV1 but not in the STV region.

From 2010 the Carling Cup Final will be shown on Sky Sports and the BBC. The BBC will show both legs of one semi-final and the final which will be shared with Sky Sports. In Australia, the semi-finals and final are shown on Fox Sports. In Canada, games are broadcast by Setanta.

Finals

1961–1966 (two legs)

Clubs with one win

* Birmingham City, Blackburn Rovers, Leeds United, Luton Town, Middlesbrough, Oxford United, Queens Park Rangers, Sheffield Wednesday, Stoke City, Swindon Town, West Bromwich Albion

Everton, West Ham and Bolton Wanderers are the only sides to reach the final twice without winning the trophy.

External links

* [http://www.carlingcup.com/ Carling Cup official site]
* [http://www.rsssf.com/tablese/engleagcuphistfull.html Full results, 1960-1992]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/ BBC News] and [http://www.rsssf.com/tablese/eng05.html RSSSF] for attendance data

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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