As the race for the first piece of domestic silverware of the season draws near an end, is it time for the Football League to rejuvenate the League Cup? As recently the League Cup, also known as the Carabao Cup has developed somewhat of a reputation.
It’s a tournament that most teams and supporters simply don’t take seriously. The 2019 semi-finals weren’t any exception, as neither one of the games fully sold out. Burton Albion’s visit to the Etihad Stadium was witnessed by only 32,089 fans. Despite the Etihad having a capacity of 55,097.
Even the meeting between London rivals Tottenham and Chelsea; shown in the featured image, failed to attract a capacity crowd.
The attendance was 44,371, less than 50% of the capacity of Wembley. It is evident that interest from supporters is rapidly decreasing. This begs the question, why do so many supporters have no interest in the League Cup? Moreover, what does the Football League need to do in order to increase its popularity?
As it stands, the winner of the cup will enter the second qualifying round of next seasons’ Europa League. Providing they don’t alternatively qualify for the Champions League. Despite this being an incredible achievement for previous winners, such as Swansea in 2013 and Birmingham in 2011. It isn’t regarded as a worthwhile incentive for other English clubs who aim to qualify for the Champions League instead.
One possible adjustment that could be made, is that the team which is victorious in the final, is rewarded with qualification to the Champions League over the Europa League.
For teams at the top of the table not named Manchester City or Liverpool, Champions League qualification is their main objective this year. Instead of regarding the League Cup as a hindrance to their season. they would perceive it as another opportunity for qualification. The list doesn’t just end with the top 6 however.
Mid-table clubs such as Watford, Leicester and Everton would see it as an opportunity to play European football. Arguably an easier route to European football than finishing within the top 6 of the Premier League. Not only would this cause the clubs the value the competition, but the supporters would also view the tournament as a huge opportunity to bring watch their team face some of the best sides in European football.
The increase of perceived importance and popularity would lead to an increase in attendances from around 50% to a capacity crowd, and the labelling of the League Cup as “The Mickey Mouse Cup” would be a thing of the past.