League Cup Third Round Preview Including Manchester United vs Liverpool

This week marks the third round of the Football Association League Cup, better known these days as the Capital One Cup. But before we get to the preview, here’s some history regarding how the tournament first started.

In the late 1950’s, the competition came to mind by a gentleman named Alan Hardaker, who happened to be the secretary of the governing Football League. From 1957 to 1979, Hardaker was considered to be somewhat of a “know it all” when it came to football.  The association was having a hard time generating revenue; the revenue from ticket sales was not cutting it. At the same time, the existing F.A. Cup was not seen as a lucrative form of financial gain for smaller clubs.

With the advent of floodlights at many English grounds in the late 1950’s, the League Cup was introduced in the 1960-61 season as a way to generate revenue through a mid-week competition that would be played in the winter.

Initially many of the top teams declined to participate, so when the incentive of guaranteed European qualification was offered to the winner of the tournament from 1966 on, teams suddenly took more interest in the competition. The winner would automatically qualify for the UEFA Cup, which is now the UEFA Europa League.

In 1967, the final garnered close to 100,000 screaming supporters at Wembley Stadium. The large attendance was enough to seal the League Cup as a permanent fixture at the national stadium. The F.A. Cup finally had some competition.

In subsequent years, sponsorship deals would emerge to help financially facilitate the cup competition. Sponsors have included various milk companies, a camera company, insurance company, lager brewery and soft drink company have added their name to the competition. For many clubs who do not have the opportunity to play in the Premier League or qualify for European competitions, the League Cup is a platform for them to attain some popularity and a financial boost to their finances. So as the third round of the League Cup kicks off again this week, let’s try and take the competition a bit more seriously and realize that, after all, that there is still a trophy to be won.

This week’s prominent fixtures

Manchester City v Wigan Athletic (Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2:45pm ET)

Manchester City will be looking to build upon their performance at the weekend in their derby match win over cross-town rivals Manchester United. Wigan Athletic will be looking to show why they deserve to be back in the Premier League with a hopeful showing. The club sits in 11th in the Championship.  In their last six encounters, City have won five and lost once against last year’s F.A. Cup winners. If last year’s cup final is anything to go by, this should be an interesting reunion of sorts.

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