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Two Suggestions To Fix The Lifeless League Cup


The League Cup stinks. It’s superfluous and boring. It’s the FA Cup with neither the romance nor the tradition. It’s either meaningless adornment for big clubs or a delusion for teams not good enough to win a real trophy. Other countries have only one cup competition. The League Cup shows us why.

Seeing Arsenal’s academy kids is the most exciting part of the League Cup, but it’s also its greatest insult. Arsenal, a club entering its fifth season without a trophy, does not care about winning it.

Ideally, the League Cup would disappear. It may be a sacrifice for the eventual European Super League. But, until that reality comes, and it will, here are a couple suggestions to inject some spice.

First, let the Scottish teams participate. It would add some variety. The Scottish teams would be motivated. Celtic and Rangers mixing it up with the English teams would be far more captivating than less stressful versions of Premier League matchups.

There is also some intriguing historical precedent. Before International Federations hardened in the 19th Century, Scottish teams participated in the FA Cup. Britain has devolved back to its national identities without the Empire, but perhaps the Union Jack and fraternization once a year might be pleasurable.

Second, move the competition. Situated at the beginning of the season, it is pure fixture congestion. The League Cup is a distant fourth priority for players and fans concerned with the League, European Competition and Internationals.

It should be continuous rather than on sporadic weekends. It could be played in August, when fans starving for football would grasp onto it. It could also be played in May. This would give teams an incentive to keep playing once their league position is secure.

These two suggestions might not be a panacea for the League Cup’s ills, but they would make it more interesting.

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  1. Will

    September 25, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Don’t know if anyone is still reading comments from this piece, but for my two cents the incredibly obvious answer is to give the 3rd and 4th place Champions League spots to the winners of the FA and Carling Cups. Three points 1) This would *instantly* revive interest in these cup competition like nothing we’ve ever seen before 2) This would “break” the top four monopoly of CL football without any tampering of player salaries, squad limits etc., simply by putting a bit of uncertainty into the 3rd and 4th CL picks each year 3) The teams going to the “Champions” League would actually be champions of something and not 3rd and 4th place runners up in the league.

    • forweg

      September 26, 2009 at 3:49 am

      I agree, that would be great, but we all know the Big Four would never let it happen, since they control everything.

    • tyduffy

      September 26, 2009 at 1:06 pm

      The Cups are too fluky and largely dependent on draws. I don’t think it’s appropriate to reward that the same as performance over an entire league season.

      As far as the Big Four monopoly, Man City, Tottenham and even Newcastle spend enough to break it. They just have to spend well.

  2. tyduffy

    September 25, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Don’t know if I buy the “only way to get to the Europa league” argument. No team cares about the Europa league. There’s little money involved.

  3. Gary

    September 25, 2009 at 6:04 am

    It is also the only way into Europe for those clubs not able to break into the top 6. Recently Spurs and Boro have gained entry into the UEFA League even though their league position was 11th at the time. It may not make any difference for the likes of Arsenal, Man Utd, Liverpool, or Chelsea, but for teams like Fulham, Everton, West Ham, Man City, Aston Villa, and Tottenham it is quite important.

    • Dave

      September 25, 2009 at 6:18 am

      And how much did Tottenham care about the Europa League once they got there through the Carling Cup? If the Europa League were somehow a gateway to the Champions League, that might make both these competitions matter more, but until then, the Europa League almost always gets treated with the same disdain as the Carling Cup.

      I say get rid of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, make the League Cup a competition for Football League clubs only, and just give that Europa League spot to 6th place. If nothing else, that will help ease the fixture congestion for everyone.

      • Gary

        September 25, 2009 at 10:06 am

        Tottenham’s performance last year in the UEFA League wasn’t a reflection of how much they cared. If you recall, at the time of their being knocked out of the UEFA League by Udinese, Spurs were dead last in the Premier League with their worst start to a season in club history. It was their poor form all-around coupled with the sale of Berbatov and Keane that got them knocked out and ultimately, Ramos getting the sack.

        • LI Matt

          September 26, 2009 at 2:23 pm

          The Udinese loss was in the group stage. Spurs recovered to qualify for the knockout rounds, where they lost to eventual winners Shakhtar.

  4. Richard

    September 25, 2009 at 6:01 am

    “It may be a sacrifice for the eventual European Super League. But, until that reality comes, and it will, here are a couple suggestions to inject some spice.”

    Ha ha, why are you so convinced there will be a European Super League? I am as convinced it will NOT happen. It’s ludicrous to suggest otherwise.

  5. Marc

    September 25, 2009 at 5:24 am

    The Scottish League has their own League Cup.

    • LI Matt

      September 26, 2009 at 2:21 pm

      So do France (Coupe de la Ligue) and Germany Ligapokal).

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