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Founded in the 1960s, the English Football League Cup is one of the three major trophies up for grabs in English football. It’s currently known as the Carabao Cup for sponsorship reasons, but more commonly referred to as the EFL Cup for short.
The competition has undergone many format changes over the years, plus a few fluctuations in popularity with fans and clubs. However, the prestige of winning the EFL Cup has always been present. After former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger once questioned the validity of the competition in 2010, Sir Alex Ferguson stated it was ‘a pot worth winning’. That will do for us.
Over the last decade or so the EFL Cup has enjoyed something of a renaissance, highlighted by the dominance of English giants. This includes Manchester City lifting the trophy five times since 2014, only disrupted by Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United twice.
There’s also the prospect of giant-killing outcomes, plus lots of thrilling rounds and exciting matches to watch. And that’s why Zenseats will always provide fans with the best ticket options after each draw has been made and all the way through to the showpiece final itself at Wembley Stadium.
Looking to gain more influence both at home and on the continent, the English Football League sought ways to rejuvenate the game and reverse falling attendances. By the 1950s, the majority of professional clubs had installed floodlights, which presented the opportunity for midweek evening matches.
Despite some press criticism and initial disinterest by some of England’s leading clubs, the English Football League Cup was inaugurated in the 1960-61 season. Aston Villa went on to win the first final against Rotherham United over two legs. In 1967, the first ever final at Wembley took place. It also provided one of the competition’s biggest upsets as then Third Division side Queens Park Rangers defeated First Division outfit West Bromwich Albion.
As the Football League began to leverage the growing influence of the EFL Cup, they threatened to boycott the UEFA Cup (now known as the UEFA Europa League), unless winning teams were allowed to compete in the European competition. And since the late 1960s, winning the EFL Cup has provided teams with another pathway to continental football. Since the 2020-21 season, winners gain entry to the UEFA Conference League.
There have been three trophies in the history of the EFL Cup, two of which came when sponsorship and branding was associated with the competition. The original and famous three-handled trophy was used from 1960 to 1981, replaced by the Milk Cup from 1981 to 1986, then the Littlewoods Cup from 1986 to 1990. All subsequent sponsors have used the original trophy to the present day.
Compared to the FA Cup, which features qualification rounds and is open semi-professional down to level 9 of the English game, the EFL Cup is only open to the 92 professional clubs in the top four tiers of English football. They are teams from the Premier League, the English Football League Championship, League One and League Two.
Although the rounds and number of games played has varied over the years, the current format includes seven rounds, organised in such a way that by the third round there are 32 teams remaining. The process of elimination continues to 16 clubs in the fourth round, 8 in the quarter-finals, 4 in the semi-finals and two in the EFL Cup final.
All but two clubs from the three EFL divisions enter the first round, including those from the Championship. Premier League clubs enter in the second round, with the exception of those involved in European competitions, and those remaining clubs enter at the third round stage.
First and second round matches were played over two legs until the 2000-01 season, with away goals used to decide the outcome of level ties after two games. Nowadays only the semi-finals are played over two legs. Since the 2018-19 season, extra time was removed from all rounds, except for the final, with drawn encounters resolved by penalties.
Just like other major cup competitions, fans always relish the opportunity to witness giant-killing matches in the EFL Cup. This is when teams from the English Football League seek to beat illustrious rivals from the Premier League. And this competition rarely disappoints, often making contests unpredictable and entertaining.
Memorable upsets include York City thumping Manchester United at Old Trafford in 1995-96, while Grimsby Town have a strong affinity with the competition. After beating Premier League side Sheffield Wednesday in 2000-01, the Mariners then eliminated the reigning EFL Cup champions Leicester City.
During the 2012-13 campaign, although they were in League Two at the time, Bradford City enjoyed a remarkable run and eliminated three Premier League teams. The Bantams grabbed wins on penalties against Wigan Athletic and Arsenal, then defeated Aston Villa over two legs in the semi-final. Although they were beaten by Swansea City in the EFL Cup final, the fans enjoyed an unexpected and cherished visit to Wembley Stadium.
Back in the 2010-11 season, Liverpool were humiliated at Anfield by Northampton town and more recently Gillingham Town claimed the scalp of Brentford in the third round. On both occasions, the winning teams were struggling near the bottom of League Two, proving that on the day, anything is possible in the EFL Cup.
So, catch the thrill of the EFL Cup. From breathtaking giant-killings to the electric atmosphere of Wembley, book your tickets with Zenseats and experience the live action of one of England’s major trophies!
Year(s) of title
1980–81, 1981–82, 1982–83, 1983–84, 1994–95, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2011–12, 2021–22
1969–70, 1975–76, 2013–14, 2015–16, 2017–18, 2018–19, 2019–20, 2020–21
1960–61, 1974–75, 1976–77, 1993–94, 1995–96
1964–65, 1997–98, 2004–05, 2006–07, 2014–15
1991–92, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2016–17, 2022–23
1970–71, 1972–73, 1998–99, 2007–08
1977–78, 1978–79, 1988–89, 1989–90
1963–64, 1996–97, 1999–2000
West Bromwich Albion
Queens Park Rangers
Most EFL Cup wins:
Most EFL final appearances:
Most consecutive final wins:
Most Consecutive final defeats:
Biggest EFL Cup final win:
Biggest EFL Cup win (all rounds):
Most EFL Cup player wins:
Most EFL Cup manager wins:
Most career EFL Cup goals:
Most EFL Cup goals in a season:
Most EFL Cup goals in 1 game:
02 Mar 2024
Signal Iduna Park
06 Apr 2024
Deutsche Bank Park
26 Jun 2024
Estadio De Vallecas
17 Mar 2024
Etihad Stadium · 02 March 2024
Signal Iduna Park · 06 April 2024
Deutsche Bank Park · 26 June 2024
Estadio De Vallecas · 17 March 2024
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Zenseats is the online ticket marketplace that gets you to the biggest and best live events across
the UK. All you have to think about is enjoying every moment.
New to Zenseats?