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EFL Cup

The English Football League Cup, or the League Cup, has been an annual competition in the English Football League since the 1960-61 season.

The League Cup was introduced as a response to dwindling crowds and the growth in popularity of European football. It took advantage of the recent introduction of floodlights to play fixtures on mid-week evenings during the winter, with a final taking place at Wembley Stadium in late February or early March.

The EFL cup was sponsored by Capital One for 4 years but was unsponsored for the 2016/17 season as the deal ended. Since the 2017/18 season, it has been sponsored by Carabao Energy Drinks.

Cup Structure

The EFL Cup is open to all 92 teams playing in the top 4 levels of the English Football League. It is divided into 7 rounds, all of which are played as single-leg games, apart from the semi-final, which is played over two legs, home and away. Since 1996-97 teams participating in European Competition have received an automatic bye to the third round, and any remaining Premier League teams enter in the second round.

The EFL is not considered as prestigious a cup as the FA Cup. Still, until the 2019/20 season, winners were awarded a place in the UEFA Europa League. Starting in 2020–21, the winners get a place in the UEFA Europa Conference League. If the cup winner has already qualified through other means at the end of the season, then this place is transferred to the highest-placed Premier League team that has not already qualified.

Prize money for the EFL Cup is low compared to other prestigious tournaments. Prize money for the final winner is £100,000, and the runner-up is £50,000.

Team Performance

As the EFL is considered lower status than the FA cup, many clubs use it as an opportunity to offer big game experience to less experienced players. This means that the opportunity for surprise performances by under-dog teams is excellent. Notable upsets include Manchester United being knocked out in 06-07 and 07-08 by Southend City and Coventry City, respectively. In the 2014-15 season, they were knocked out in the second round, losing 4-0 to third-tier team MK Dons. Grimsby Town was responsible for 2 giant killings, knocking out current cup holders Liverpool in 2001-02 and Tottenham Hotspur in 2005.

The lowest-ranked team to reach a League Cup Final was League Two team Bradford City in 2012-13. They knocked out Premier League Teams Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa on their way to the final.

Historically Liverpool is the best performing club in the EFL, reaching the final 13 times and winning 9. They are followed by Manchester United and Aston Villa with 9 final appearances and 5 wins. Manchester City have only made 9 appearances in the final but are second in the number of wins they have achieved, winning 8 of those appearances.

Betting on the EFL

Betting on the EFL can be challenging as it's difficult to anticipate whether a club will be fielding their strongest side. Nevertheless, the English Football League Cup is a popular market among gamblers; if you know lower-division football well, this can offer an advantage. In recent years the winner of the EFL Cup has mostly been a big Premier League side, but upsets do happen, and there is money to be made betting on an outsider to progress. Popular bets at match level include individual match-winner, half-time/full-time score, anytime goalscorer and total goals over/under.

EFL Key dates for 2022/23

  • Round one – (week commencing) 10 August 2022
  • Round two – 24 August 2022
  • Round three – 9 November 2022
  • Round four – 21 December 2022
  • Quarter-final – 11 January 2023
  • Semi-final first leg – 25 January 2023
  • Semi-final second leg – 1 February 2023
  • Final – 26 February 2023