Here’s a confession: I like the League Cup. One of my earliest football memories was watching the club I support, Arsenal, claiming the then Coca Cola Cup in 1992/3, in an historic Cup Double season. But it’s not only a nostalgic view – I also believe this competition is still relevant and has even bigger potential.
And why not, really? Sure, it’s not the FA Cup, but it’s still a traditional English competition. It’s a trophy and there’s nothing better for the fans than a final day at Wembley. And contrary to what many believe, winning the League cup was not only important for clubs like Swansea. It also proved important for the Premier League giants. Claiming the League Cup prompted Ronaldo and Rooney’s Manchester United to win the Premiership & the Champions League. Jose Mourinho‘s first piece of silverware in English football was the League Cup, the crucial first trophy in Chelsea’s golden era. And on the other side of the scale, Arsenal never really recovered from the League Cup final blow in 2011.
Many believe the League Cup should be scrapped in today’s commercialised game, citing several reasons – loss of interest, player’s health, fixtures congestion causing problems and many others. All should be taken seriously, of course, but it doesn’t mean football tournaments should be abolished. Instead, it should evolve and custom itself. It should be used as an opportunity to bring fans closer to the game and help the development of young footballers.
Here are some ideas that can help the League Cup and to adjust in today’s game:
- Making it an Olympic-style tournament, with no more than three or five over-23 players in the squad. It could prove to be a good way of helping youth development in English football.
- Force clubs to offer affordable tickets in the League cup, especially for younger fans. Other clubs must follow the example of Arsenal, who regularly charged less for League Cup home matches, yet filled the Emirates’ seats.
- Try different scheduling – perhaps even starting the campaign earlier, in late July or early August, and making it a part of the pre-season, and during the school holidays. Earlier kick off hours, like 6pm on weekdays, should also be applied, so teenagers and kids can attend more easily.
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