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What’s the latest craziness of the League Cup?

No Far East draw this time, it’s a lot closer to home

I’m wondering how much lower the League Cup (EFL Cup) can go?

I’ve just read that the draw for the first round of the upcoming season’s competition is being held in a London supermarket.

Really?

The organisers have tried hosting a draw in China which took place at 4.15 in the morning – what a farce!

Now time won’t be the problem but (in my eyes) the venue will be. The draw will take place at 7pm this Thursday in the Colindale branch of Morrisons. I’m sorry, but I think someone is extracting the urine here.

For all I know said supermarket may be a top store. Indeed, if it is like my local one I’m more than prepared to concede that point. But the venue for a football draw? That can’t be right.

The League Cup has always been the poor cousin of the FA Cup which itself in recent years has lost some of its allure. 

The EFL version just keeps shooting itself in the foot. Currently it is called the Carabao Cup ­and that’s where the league made its first mistake, allowing the sponsors to name the cup.

At least the FA Cup keeps the sponsor’s name at the end of its title.

The Football League Cup started in 1960-61 and for the first two decades the name stayed the same.

The first cup was contested on a home and away basis, not even a trip to Wembley. It was won by Aston Villa by 3-2 after extra time. Their opponents were Rotherham United of the Second Division (now The Championship). At the time it was almost unheard of for a non-top flight team to reach a final. It wasn’t so difficult in the League Cup.

Since 81-82 the cup has changed its name every few years thanks to a variety of sponsors. First it was called the Milk Cup (Milk Marketing Board). Then it was the Littlewoods, the Rumbelows, the Coca-Cola, Worthington’s, Carling, Capital One and now Carabao. It was just the EFL Cup in 2016-17 because no company was mad enough to want to sponsor it.

I attended one of the two Rumbelows finals and was appalled when the electrical and electronic retailer’s Employee of the Year was rolled out to shake hands with the players before the match. I’m sure the lady was an excellent staff member, but you would hardly class her as a dignitary outside of her own family. Rumbelows went out of business in 1995. Wonder why?

A thought for the EFL … try to get the Disney organisation to be sponsors then it can be called what it has always been – the Mickey Mouse Cup.

In the first year of the League Cup several of the top flight teams –  ArsenalSheffield WednesdayWest Bromwich AlbionWolverhampton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur – declined to take part. Others would follow their lead in subsequent years.

Nowadays several of the top flight teams do one of three things. They use the competition to give game time to youngsters coming through their ranks; use the games to get previously injured players match-fit again; or simply rest their best players for more important league clashes. In other words, they don’t (with a few exceptions) take it too seriously.

The most recent London club to pick up the trophy was Chelsea in 2015 when they beat Spurs 2-0. Picture: Commons Wikimedia

I was slightly surprised to work out that only four London teams have ever hoisted the three-handled trophy. Chelsea have won it the most with five triumphs. Then it’s Spurs (4), Arsenal (2) and QPR (1). Some big names missing.

I don’t suppose the Football League will drop the competition completely (though it wouldn’t trouble many football fans one jot if they did) but I think they ought to act to try to halt the competition becoming an even bigger laughing stock.

Not holding the draw in a London supermarket might be a good place to start.

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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